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Beijing's War on Fresh Outbreak

beijing-coronavirus-line

Beijing has gone into "war-mode" to stomp out a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases with aggressive testing, security checkpoints, school closures, and temperature checks, Reuters reports.

The city reported 79 cases over the last few days, after nearly 2 infection-free months. The latest cluster has been traced to Beijing’s Xinfadi food market—20X the size of the Wuhan seafood market where the novel coronavirus first emerged.

Polio Vaccine—A Temporary Solution?

poliovaccine

Could existing polio vaccines be used to fight coronavirus?

Researchers—including Robert Gallo, who helped discover HIV—are seeking funding to test their theory, making their case in Science this week.

They argue that live attenuated vaccines can trigger "interferon and other innate immunity mechanisms" to provide protection against unrelated pathogens.

In theory, a live polio vaccine then could possibly buy the body time to develop the right antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, NBC reports.

Reopening Followed By Resurgence

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Lockdowns are winding down even as coronavirus cases continue to rise in at least 20 US states, NPR reports. And the US has now reached 2 million confirmed cases—a chilling milestone.

But the uptick is uneven. While some early hot-spots like New York are seeing a sustained decline in cases, hospitalizations are rising in others.

Texas—among the first states to begin reopening—saw record hospitalizations this week. And Arizona, which has the highest per capita rate in the US, has drawn national attention. The state is averaging 1,000+ cases per day this week.

WHO Walks Back Claim Asymptomatic Transmission is Rare

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A backpedaling WHO clarified its Monday statement that asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission appears to be rare, NPR's Goats and Soda reports.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for health emergencies, said yesterday that she was responding to a journalist's question and "wasn't stating a policy of WHO or anything like that."

What she meant, she said, is that she hasn't seen evidence of widespread transmission from asymptomatic individuals. The existing data is spotty because "so-called silent spreaders" are tough to pinpoint.

WHO Says Asymptomatic Spread “Rare,” Sparking Debate

Maria Van Kerkhove

The WHO called into question the extent that asymptomatic people are spreading COVID-19, launching a global debate, The Hill reports.

"From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual," said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, citing unpublished data from detailed contact tracing reports at a briefing yesterday. She suggested that the focus should be on following symptomatic cases.

More Evidence the Shutdowns Were Necessary

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Shutdowns potentially blocked 530 million COVID-19 infections in 6 countries including the US and China, The Washington Post reports, citing a study preview Nature published today.

Restrictions including stay-at-home orders and business closures prevented ~285 million cases in China and ~60 million in the US alone, according to University of California, Berkeley researchers.

Red Flags Raised on Research

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Two top medical journals are reviewing major studies they published on potential COVID-19 treatments (including hydroxychloroquine) after questions about their data surfaced yesterday, Science reports.

The papers in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine shared a common source: A little-known company called Surgisphere.

Reasoning Beyond the Respiratory

Blood clots.

Blood clots. Purple toes. Kidney damage. Heart inflammation.

While COVID-19 is widely known as a respiratory illness, its roster of mysterious symptoms is pointing researchers to a surprising possibility—what if COVID-19 only begins as a respiratory infection, but ultimately becomes one that infects the blood vessels?

A Lancet paper published in April found that SARS-CoV-2 can launch vicious attacks on the lining of blood vessels.

WHO Pauses Hydroxychloroquine Trial

pills of hydroxychloroquine

The WHO paused hydroxychloroquine’s inclusion yesterday in a global trial of COVID-19 treatments, following Friday’s release of a study linking the drug to harmful outcomes, Politico reports.

The observational study, published in the Lancet, tied the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in COVID-19 patients with a higher risk of death and increased frequency of heart arrhythmias.

The CDC’s New Takes on COVID-19

Young adults Florida

35% of novel coronavirus infections are asymptomatic and 0.4% of people who show symptoms may die, according to the US CDC’s new "best estimates," CNN reports.

The estimates are part of 5 planning scenarios for infectious disease modelers in new CDC guidance.

The CDC also estimates that 40% of transmission occurs before people feel sick, per CNN.

The CDC has also recently revised its "How COVID-19 Spreads" website
to emphasize that SARS-CoV-2 "spreads between people" and not easily from a contaminated surface, The Washington Post reports.

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