New Delhi: With over 4,80,000 deaths worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, the infection continues to surge in several countries. Scientists, across the world, are still attempting to understand the virus better to develop more effective therapies against it.
Here are some of the latest scientific developments on the Covid-19 from across the world.
First Covid-19 vaccine trials start in South Africa
Scientists at the University of the Witwatersrand have started the first clinical trial in South Africa for a Covid-19 vaccine, which was developed by UK’s Oxford University.
The team will test the Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine, often known as the Oxford Vaccine, as part of the VIDA-Trial that aims to find a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.
The university is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute in the UK for this trial.
The technical name of the vaccine is ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, as it is made from a virus called ChAdOx1 — a weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus (adenovirus). The vaccine has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
The vaccine is already being evaluated in a large clinical trial in the UK where more than 4,000 participants have been enrolled. In addition to the South African study, similar and related studies are about to start in Brazil as well. An even larger study of the same vaccine of up to 30,000 participants is being planned in the US as well.
New study to look at heatwave risks during Covid-19 pandemic
Scientists in the US are launching a research project to study whether the Covid-19 pandemic will amplify the public health impacts of extreme heat.
Just like the novel coronavirus, heat waves disproportionately affect the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions.
Social isolation — especially without adequate cooling — increases people’s risk to heat-related illnesses. The researchers state that it is important to understand whether these intersecting risks can compound to produce significant health impacts.
The team will conduct surveys through the summer, querying a total of 3,000 US residents. The surveys will consist of questions about Covid-19 and extreme heat, including self-reported symptoms and potential household coping mechanisms.
The results from the survey can help guide efforts by public health officials to better protect at-risk populations.
Covid-19 patients in ICU more likely to suffer from cardiac arrest, heart rhythm disorders
Patients with Covid-19 who are admitted to the intensive care unit are 10 times more likely than other hospitalised coronavirus patients to suffer cardiac arrest or heart rhythm disorders, a study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reveal that cardiac arrests and arrhythmias are most likely triggered by a severe, systemic form of the disease.
The study may provide more clarity about the role of SARS-COV-2 in the development of arrhythmias, including irregular heart rate, slow heart rhythms or rapid heart rate that stops by itself within 30 seconds.
Scientists publish all-atom models of the coronavirus spike protein
A team of researchers from the Seoul National University in South Korea, University of Cambridge in UK, and Lehigh University in US have produced the first open-source all-atom models of a full-length coronavirus spike protein.
The “spike” or S-protein of the SARS-CoV-2 facilitates viral entry into the human body cells. Researchers say that the full length model is important because the S-protein plays a central role in viral entry into cells, making it a main target for vaccine and antiviral drug development.
The model, described in a study published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, was developed using a program that simulates complex biomolecular systems quickly with precision. It enables scientists to understand molecular-level interactions that cannot be observed any other way.
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