As the number of coronavirus cases remains on the rise, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC are working on a possible vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Scientists announced news of the potential vaccine, which has now been tested successfully on mice, on Thursday.According to a press release from UPMC and the university, “When tested in mice, the vaccine, delivered through a fingertip-sized patch, produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus.” In a paper announcing the vaccine in the journal EBioMedicine, co-author Andrea Gambotto, an associate professor of surgery at the university said the researchers hope to “get this into patients as soon as possible.” Through their previous work on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014, researchers and scientists in that lab have learned that a spike protein is of particular importance to building immunity against the virus. Thanks to that research, Gambotto said, “We knew exactly where to fight this new virus.”The announcement comes as we enter the fourth month of the pandemic, with one-third of the global population now on lockdown trying to fight the spread of the virus through social distancing. While that strategy is working to flatten the curve in places that adopted the practice early on, the full effects of the virus are yet to be seen in places that waited to enforce stay-at-home orders. The novel coronavirus has now infected more than one million people globally and killed more than 54,000 people. The U.S. alone has reported more than 245,500 of those cases, with hotbeds for the virus in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Seattle, and Detroit. Still, even as we take the necessary social precautions to slow the spread of coronavirus, only a vaccine can help people build immunity to it and prevent people from getting sick. There are currently at least 35 companies and academic institutions working to do so, four of which have developed vaccines that are in the animal-testing stages, The Guardian reports. Last month, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh estimated it could take at least a year to 18 months to develop a vaccine and get through the trial period. According to Louis Falo, a professor and chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh who co-authored the paper in EBioMedicine, they would like to start clinical trials in about a month, “give or take. Maybe two months. We just started the process.”Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?I Tested The New Coronavirus VaccineThe C3 Test Can Diagnose People Without SymptomsCDC To Change Their Face Mask Recommendations
President Donald Trump slammed 3M Co in a tweet late on Thursday after earlier announcing he was invoking the Defense Production Act to get the company to produce face masks. At a White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic earlier on Thursday, Trump announced he had signed a Defense Production Act order for 3M to produce face masks.
- National Review
3M Refuses White House Directive to Send Masks from Singapore to U.S., Citing Concern for Asian Medical Workers
Health care manufacturer 3M has resisted pressure from the White House to import about 10 million N95 respirator masks from the company's hub in Singapore originally destined for Asian countries, in part due to concern for health care workers in those countries, the Financial Times reported on Friday.While 3M agreed to import a similar amount from a factory in China, President Trump and his administration have criticized the company for being less than cooperative with the mobilization effort — and Trump announced he would invoke the Defense Production Act to compel 3M to deliver masks to the U.S.“The administration had worked very hard to ease some rules for 3M and other respirator manufacturers because those companies, 3M chief among them, had essentially promised that they would immediately be putting 35m N95s into the US marketplace. It became clear recently that wasn’t happening,” one White House official told the Financial Times."We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks," Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday night. "'P Act' all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing - will have a big price to pay!"Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, who also serves as the Defense Production Act coordinator for the White House, criticized 3M earlier on Thursday."To be frank, over the last several days we've had some issues, making sure that all of the production that 3M does around the world, enough of it is coming back here to the right places," Navarro said.On Friday, 3M CEO Mike Roman countered that the company was concentrating all its efforts to help fight the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S."The idea that the 3M isn't doing everything it can…is absurd," Roman said on CNBC. "We are doing everything we can to maximize our efforts."In earlier stages of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Trump was initially reluctant to rely on the DPA, which allows the executive branch to compel companies to produce goods in times of national emergency. However, on March 27 Trump used the legislation to order General Motors to begin production of ventilators, saying negotiations over contracts with the company had dragged on too long."Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course" Trump said at the time. "GM was wasting time."
- Business Insider
Chinese government rejects allegations that its face masks were defective, tells countries to 'double check' instructions
The Chinese government told other countries to "double-check" the instructions for using the defective face masks.
- AFP News
US Navy Captain Brett Crozier was cheered by hundreds of sailors as he left the USS Roosevelt docked in Guam after his controversial firing by the Pentagon, videos showed Friday. The respected head of the aircraft carrier, hit by the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic, was removed from his command by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly Thursday after a letter Crozier wrote pleading with the Pentagon for support for the crew was leaked into the public. "Captain Crozier, Captain Crozier," sailors on the deck of the warship chanted as they clapped.
- AFP News
An ambulance driver wearing a white protective gown enters a Barcelona hotel and announces the arrival of three new "customers" -- a trio of coronavirus patients discharged from hospital into luxury quarantine. In second-city Barcelona, hoteliers have made 2,500 beds available.
- AFP News
Italy saw more evidence Friday that it might have made it through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic despite the world-leading death toll growing by 766 to 14,681. In new data from the civil protection service the daily rise of officially registered infections dropped to a new low of just four percent. The situation in some of Italy's worst-hit regions also appears to be gradually easing.
- AFP News
China came to a standstill on Saturday to mourn patients and medical staff killed by the coronavirus, as the world's most populous country observed a nationwide three-minute silence. At 10 am (0200 GMT), citizens paused, cars, trains and ships sounded their horns, and air-raid sirens rang out in memory of the more than 3,000 lives claimed by the virus in China. In Wuhan -- the city where the virus first emerged late last year -- sirens and horns sounded as people fell silent in the streets.
- The New York Times
Neurologists around the world say that a small subset of patients with COVID-19 are developing serious impairments of the brain.Although fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the typical hallmarks of infection with the new coronavirus, some patients exhibit altered mental status, or encephalopathy, a catchall term for brain disease or dysfunction that can have many underlying causes, as well as other serious conditions. These neurological syndromes join other unusual symptoms, such as diminished sense of smell and taste as well as heart ailments.In early March, a 74-year-old man came to the emergency room in Boca Raton, Florida, with a cough and a fever, but an X-ray ruled out pneumonia and he was sent home. The next day, when his fever spiked, family members brought him back. He was short of breath, and could not tell doctors his name or explain what was wrong -- he had lost the ability to speak.The patient, who had chronic lung disease and Parkinson's, was flailing his arms and legs in jerky movements, and appeared to be having a seizure. Doctors suspected he had COVID-19, and were eventually proven right when he was finally tested.On Tuesday, doctors in Detroit reported another disturbing case involving a female airline worker in her late 50s with COVID-19. She was confused, and complained of a headache; she could tell the physicians her name but little else, and became less responsive over time. Brain scans showed abnormal swelling and inflammation in several regions, with smaller areas where some cells had died.Physicians diagnosed a dangerous condition called acute necrotizing encephalopathy, a rare complication of influenza and other viral infections."The pattern of involvement, and the way that it rapidly progressed over days, is consistent with viral inflammation of the brain," Dr. Elissa Fory, a neurologist with Henry Ford Health System, said through an email. "This may indicate the virus can invade the brain directly in rare circumstances." The patient is in critical condition.These domestic reports follow similar observations by doctors in Italy and other parts of the world, of COVID-19 patients having strokes, seizures, encephalitislike symptoms and blood clots, as well as tingling or numbness in the extremities, called acroparesthesia. In some cases, patients were delirious even before developing fever or respiratory illness, according to Dr. Alessandro Padovani, whose hospital at University of Brescia in Italy opened a separate NeuroCovid unit to care for patients with neurological conditions.The patients who come in with encephalopathy are confused and lethargic and may appear dazed, exhibiting strange behavior or staring off into space. They may be having seizures that require immediate medical care, and experts are warning health care providers who treat such patients to recognize that they may have COVID-19 and to take precautions to protect themselves from infection.Much is still unknown about the neurological symptoms, but efforts are underway to study the phenomena, said Dr. Sherry H-Y. Chou, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who is leading a team of investigators for the Neurocritical Care Society."We absolutely need to have an information finding mission, otherwise we're flying blind," Chou said. "There's no ventilator for the brain. If the lungs are broken we can put the patient on a ventilator and hope for recovery. We don't have that luxury with the brain."Experts have emphasized that most COVID-19 patients appear to be normal neurologically."Most people are showing up awake and alert, and neurologically appear to be normal," said Dr. Robert Stevens, a neurologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore who is tracking neurological observations.Neurological specialists also say that it is too early to make definitive statements or identify the specific mechanisms by which the new coronavirus is affecting the neurological system.In one recent paper, Chinese scientists noted that there was some evidence that other coronaviruses were not confined to the respiratory tract and invaded the central nervous system, and the authors speculated that this may potentially play a role in acute respiratory failure in COVID-19.Stevens emphasized that all mechanistic explanations at this point are hypotheses because so little is known: "It could be as simple as low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream," resulting from respiratory failure, along with an increase in carbon dioxide, which "can have significant impact on the function of the brain, and lead to states of confusion and lethargy," he said."We are still in the early days of this, and we don't really know for sure."Neurologists in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started, were among the first to report the symptoms in a preliminary paper published online in February.Since that report, specialists observed similar symptoms in Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Holland as well as the United States, including among patients under 60, Stevens said.Some doctors have reported cases of patients who were brought in for treatment because of their altered mental state, and who ultimately tested positive for COVID-19, although they had none of the classic symptoms like fever or cough.Four elderly patients who came into Danbury Hospital in Connecticut with encephalopathy ultimately tested positive for COVID-19, although they had no other symptoms, said Dr. Paul Nee, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital. Two of the four went on to develop low grade fevers and needed oxygen briefly, but two did not, he said.While it is not unusual for elderly people to experience confusion when they develop other infections, "the striking thing is we have not seen any real respiratory illness in these patients," Nee said. They have continued to test positive and cannot be discharged, even though they are not really ill, he said.But earlier reports had indicated that severely ill individuals with more typical symptoms were more likely to exhibit the rare neurological conditions, which ranged from dizziness and headaches to impaired consciousness, stroke and musculoskeletal injury. The Chinese study in February said that about 15% of those patients with severe illness experienced a change in mental status, compared with 2.4% of those who did not have severe illness, according to that study.Another study, published in the British Medical Journal in late March, found that of 113 patients from Wuhan who died of COVID-19, 22% had experienced disorders of consciousness, ranging from somnolence to deep coma, compared with only 1% of another group of patients who recovered from the illness.For potential COVID-19 patients and the people caring for them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes "new confusion or inability to rouse" among the warning signs that should prompt a decision to seek immediate medical care.Patients who have encephalopathy and seem confused or incoherent are prone to having seizures, and should receive treatment as soon as possible, said Dr. Jennifer Frontera, a neurologist at NYU Langone Health who is working with Chou. She added that seizures can manifest in more subtle ways than the dramatic presentations often depicted in movies and television shows."Seizures are not always big things where people fall down and are shaking on the ground," Frontera said. "Some could be just veering off, not paying attention, making repetitive nonpurposeful movements, or just mental status changes where people are just not themselves."But even if seizures are not observed, people who are sick should be aware of other potential mental symptoms."You don't feel your best when you have a fever, but you should be able to interact normally," Frontera said. "You should be able to answer questions and converse in a normal fashion."She added: "I don't want everyone calling 911 because they're overly concerned. We just don't have the capacity. But if someone is really out of it, they probably need medical attention."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
- Yahoo News
The first reported cases came from China in December, eventually spreading to nearly every other country on earth over the ensuing three months.