Follow the Coronavirus Outbreak
Follow the Coronavirus Outbreak

Follow the Coronavirus Outbreak

Postdocs face hiring freezes; mouse labs make tough decisions; FDA clears 5-minute COVID-19 test

The Scientist Staff
Feb 20, 2020

FDA Gives Abbott Emergency Use of Five-Minute Coronavirus Test

The machine can be run in doctor’s offices and other point-of-care settings to give rapid results.

Africa Contributes SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing to COVID-19 Tracking

In recent years, laboratories on the continent have ramped up genomic sequencing capabilities, offering in-country analyses rather than outsourcing the job.

COVID-19 Vaccine Developers Gain Enhanced Access to Supercomputers

Federal agencies, academic institutions, and industrial partners are joining forces to combat COVID-19 using artificial intelligence.

Animal Facilities Make Tough Decisions as Pandemic Closes Labs

Many researchers have stopped breeding mice, reduced the size of colonies, and established contingency plans in case animal care staff get sick.

Universities Issue Hiring Freezes in Response to COVID-19

Graduate students and postdocs are left wondering about the implications for their academic careers.

FDA to Allow for Plasma Therapy for COVID-19 Patients

Under emergency protocols, doctors can request to use survivors’ plasma to treat some critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Locally Made COVID-19 Tests Help Meet Demands

Hospitals and commercial companies are testing thousands of patients for COVID-19 daily, but face reagent and supply shortages.

Relatively Stable SARS-CoV-2 Genome Is Good News for a Vaccine

The small number of genetic differences between the original strain of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan and those currently circulating in the US population indicates that a vaccine may likely offer lasting immunity.

Lost Smell and Taste Hint COVID-19 Can Target the Nervous System

The symptoms suggest SARS-CoV-2 might infect neurons, raising questions about whether there could be effects on the brain that play a role in patients’ deaths, but the data are preliminary.

Our maps and charts, updated regularly, offer a striking view of the global move of the novel coronavirus. See the full suite of visuals.

Chloroquine for COVID-19: Cutting Through the Hype


The drug has a long track record in medicine, having been used since the 1940s as an antimalarial and there are some early indications it could work against SARS-CoV-2 infections. Jeremy Rossman of the University says he would expect chloroquine to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in the lab, based on what is known about its ability to raise endosomic pH. “But there’s often a huge gap between how it works in the lab cells and how it works in the body,” he says. Larger clinical trials will be necessary to determine how effective the drug is.

Remdesivir Works Against Coronaviruses in the Lab


There are three ongoing COVID-19 clinical trials at locations across China and the United States for remdesivir, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical company Gilead. Doctors in the US have also treated patients with the drug under the Food and Drug Administration’s compassionate use policy, and—while it’s not clear that it was because of remdesivir treatment—at least one patient recovered. Remdesivir has shown promise disabling coronaviruses in the lab, too.

Journals, Peer Reviews Cope with Surge in COVID-19 Publications


Coronavirus experts are intensifying their own research programs in response to the outbreak, while handling an influx of manuscripts from other researchers that require peer review. “I’m getting probably ten to twenty review requests a week. Then I’ve been reviewing five to six per week. Before the outbreak, I was sticking to mostly four to six coronavirus papers per month.”

Why Some COVID-19 Cases Are Worse than Others


Like many other respiratory conditions, COVID-19—the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2—can vary widely among patients. Scientists are trying to figure out why that is and also why the new coronavirus, like its cousins SARS and MERS, appears to be more deadly than other coronaviruses that regularly circulate among people each winter and typically cause cold symptoms. 

Modelers Struggle to Predict the Future of the COVID-19 Pandemic


Like any other models, the projections of how the outbreak will unfold, how many people will become infected, and how many will die, are only as reliable as the scientific information they rest on. And most modelers’ efforts so far have focused on improving these data, rather than making premature predictions.

After Conference Cancellations, Some Scientists Find a Way

As scores of academic meetings get upended due to COVID-19, researchers are turning to virtual replacements.

US Primate Centers Work to Protect Animals from COVID-19

Rhesus macaques can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, leading primate center scientists to try to prevent outbreaks in their colonies, especially as experiments on coronavirus start.

Monkeys Develop Protective Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2

A small study of macaques finds they don’t develop a coronavirus infection the second time they are exposed, supporting the idea of using plasma from recovered patients as a treatment for COVID-19.

Opinion: Stop Private Speculation in COVID-19 Research

We present an economic plan for a collective sharing of scientific knowledge on the pandemic.

Border Closing Strands Professors, Students in Peru

Under lockdown in a hotel, members of a plant ecology course continue to work and study as they seek a way to return home.

Opinion: Grad Students Face Uncertainty During the Pandemic

With mounting feelings of isolation, research projects derailed, and financial futures cast into doubt, grad students are anxious in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Possible Biological Explanations for Kids’ Escape from COVID-19

Infected children may harbor SARS-CoV-2 while showing less-severe symptoms than adults. Their young immune systems, ACE2 receptor levels, and even exposure to other coronaviruses might play a role in their resilience.

University of Washington Pathology Professor Dies of COVID-19

Stephen Schwartz, known for his work on the vascular system, is the first person associated with the university to succumb to infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Opinion: Making Online Teaching a Success

Here are the lessons we’ve learned so far about the keys to virtual science education—including what to do about lab classes.

Governments Must Ramp Up COVID-19 Testing, Says WHO

The World Health Organization warns that a lack of data on how many people have the disease could undermine containment and mitigation efforts in many countries.

Coronavirus’s Effects on Autism Research May Have Lasting Effects

Labs are trying to figure out who will care for animals and organoids and some clinical trials are put on hold.

Bay Area Researchers Close Labs Under New Restrictions

Under an area-wide “shelter in place” order, scientists at some of the world’s leading universities scramble to continue working while confined to their homes.

How COVID-19 Is Spread

Scientists’ latest understanding of the facts, the suspicions, and the discounted rumors of SARS-CoV-2’s transmission from person to person

Life Science Conference Disruptions Due to Coronavirus

Find out which meetings have been canceled, postponed, or are going ahead as planned.

How SARS-CoV-2 Tests Work and What's Next in COVID-19 Diagnostics

Current methods to detect infections of the novel coronavirus rely on identifying particular genetic sequences, but new assays are being developed to meet the growing demand for rapid answers.

Which Species Transmit COVID-19 to Humans? We’re Still Not Sure.

Preliminary modeling studies provide a shortlist of potential coronavirus intermediate host species.

Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine Begins in Seattle

The first volunteer will receive a shot of the synthetic RNA vaccine today.

Where Coronaviruses Come From

EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak speaks with The Scientist about how pathogens like SARS-CoV-2 jump species, and how to head off the next pandemic.

Newer Vaccine Technologies Deployed to Develop COVID-19 Shot

Researchers look to messenger RNA encased in nanoparticles, DNA plasmids, molecular clamps, and other approaches as they rush to design a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

Chinese Officials Blame US Army for Coronavirus

There is no evidence backing the idea that SARS-CoV-2 originated from US servicemembers visiting Wuhan.

Modelers Struggle to Predict the Future of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Disease experts have largely focused on how we got to where we are now with coronavirus infections. Improved data collection and sharing can enhance projections of what’s to come.

SARS-CoV-2 Can Live on Plastic and Steel for 2–3 Days

A preprint indicates that coronavirus transmission from surfaces is possible, but does not provide evidence that this has occurred in the COVID-19 pandemic.

RNA Extraction Kits for COVID-19 Tests Are in Short Supply in US

Manufacturing sites are ramping up production of reagents needed to isolate SARS-CoV-2’s genetic material—a key step in testing for the virus.

Studies Estimate Incubation Time, Infectious Period of SARS-CoV-2

It takes a median of five days after infection to get sick, and patients shed the most coronavirus particles early in the illness, according to two new reports.

College Class Cancellations Skyrocket Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Dozens of schools across 11 states have announced emergency policies to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus’s Genetics Hint at Its Cryptic Spread in Communities

Contact tracing and genetic testing reveal how SARS-CoV-2 circulated among individuals for weeks, especially in the US, before being detected.

Scientists Use Online Game to Research COVID-19 Treatment

The creativity of citizen scientists could help researchers design proteins that may be able to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Global COVID-19 Cases Top 100,000

The WHO chief calls for swift action as universities in multiple countries shut down and researchers report kids can become infected.

Theory that Coronavirus Escaped from a Lab Lacks Evidence

The pathogen appears to have come from wild animals, virologists say, and there are no signs of genetic manipulation in the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

Indian Authorities Promote Use of Homeopathy to Prevent Coronavirus

Critics of the practice say the guidance is irresponsible and could give users a false sense of security.

Second US Coronavirus Death Confirmed in Washington State

More cases emerge across the country as the global death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 3,000.

Government’s Mixed Messages on Coronavirus Are Dangerous: Experts

Administration officials have given contradictory statements about how COVID-19 will affect the US, and it is not clear who is leading the infectious disease response effort, critics say.

Coronavirus Precautions Stifle Research

Organizers have cancelled conferences, COVID-19 quarantines have prevented some scientists in China from visiting their labs, and travel restrictions have left researchers stranded.

Coronavirus’s Genetics Reveal Its Global Travels

Random mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen’s genome help researchers track the spread and transmission of COVID-19, the disease it causes.

As Global Coronavirus Cases Climb, More Areas on Lockdown

An increase in confirmed infections, particularly in Italy, Iran, and South Korea, has led to heightened measures to prevent the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Journals Open Access to Coronavirus Resources

Nearly 100 academic journals, societies, institutes, and companies sign a commitment to make research and data on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 freely available, at least for the duration of the outbreak.

Scientists Compare Novel Coronavirus to SARS and MERS

Researchers find 380 amino acid substitutions between 2019-nCoV and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related coronaviruses.

Senior Doctor in Wuhan Outbreak Dies from Coronavirus

Liu Zhiming is the eighth frontline health-care worker to die from COVID-19, and hundreds more have been infected.

The Latest Drugs Trials for Coronavirus

Under careful watch of the World Health Organization, doctors will test a range of COVID-19 therapies, including HIV and flu antivirals, blood plasma infusions, and traditional Chinese medicines.

Image of the Day: Coronavirus Under the Scope

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases releases a series of images that offer a close up look at the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Opinion: Scientists’ Obligations During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Scientists can provide essential information to educate the public about the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Test Kits May Yield Inconclusive Results

Some US states are waiting for the CDC to send replacement enzymes necessary for carrying out SARS-CoV-2 assays.

Outrage and Grief Follow Death of Coronavirus Whistleblower

Authorities had silenced Li Wenliang after he spoke out about the virus, now known as SARS-CoV-2 in the early days of the epidemic.

Test for Novel Coronavirus Approved for Wide Deployment

The US Food and Drug Administration authorizes the distribution of the SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic to state health departments and other facilities.

Report of Asymptomatic Transmission of 2019-nCoV Inaccurate

Claims that a woman spread the virus to a colleague in Germany before she had symptoms conflict with health officials’ interview with the patient herself.

Going Viral for the Wrong Reasons

What is a publication to do when readers misuse its content?

Scientists Scrutinize New Coronavirus Genome for Answers

Researchers are trying to figure out where it came from, whether it’s evolving, and just how big a threat it will be.