New Delhi: With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage across the globe, researchers are bringing new insights to the SAR-CoV-2 virus to develop more efficient therapies against it.
Here are some of the latest scientific findings from the Covid-19 front.
Study identifies 26 animals that could be susceptible to Covid-19
Numerous mammals that regularly come in contact with humans may be vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, looked at how the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 could interact with the ACE2 receptor — the protein that facilitates the entry of coronavirus into animal cells.
The team looked at mutations in the ACE2 protein in 215 different animals to see if they would reduce the ability of the virus to bind with the host cell.
The study found that for animals such as sheep, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, the proteins would be able to bind together just as strongly as in humans. The team believes that these animals may act as reservoirs of the virus, and cause infection in humans later on.
Most birds, fish, and reptiles do not appear to be at risk of infection, researchers concluded.
Treatment with lopinavir-ritonavir does not improve outcome for Covid patients
The drug combination lopinavir-ritonavir is not an effective treatment for patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, according to the results of a randomised controlled trial published in The Lancet.
Many clinical care guidelines have recommended lopinavir-ritonavir, which is approved for treating HIV/AIDS, for Covid patients. However, researchers now state that these guidelines should also be updated.
The results are from the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 therapy (RECOVERY) trial, which is under way in 176 hospitals in the UK. This is the first large-scale randomised clinical trial to report the effects of lopinavir-ritonavir in patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, according to researchers.
Preliminary results from the trials were made public in June, based on which the World Health Organization (WHO) halted lopinavir-ritonavir treatment groups involved in its SOLIDARITY trial.
Findings from the trial indicate that using lopinavir-ritonavir to treat patients hospitalised with Covid does not reduce deaths. In the study, about 23 per cent of the patients who received lopinavir-ritonavir died within 28 days while 22 per cent patients who received standard treatment died within the same period.
New mathematical technique can make RT-PCR tests more sensitive
Scientists in the US have developed a way to increase the sensitivity of the RT-PCR tests, the primary test used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The findings, published in the scientific journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, may help improve the test’s ability to identify people who are infected, but do not exhibit symptoms.
The team described a mathematical technique for perceiving comparatively faint signals in the diagnostic test data that indicate the presence of the virus.
These signals can escape detection when the number of viral particles found in a patient’s nasal swab test sample is low. The new method helps a minuscule signal stand out more clearly in the test results, making the swab test up to 10 times more sensitive.
Relaxing physical distancing measures can spike Covid-19 transmissions
Relaxing measures of physical distancing can immediately reverse public health gains made against Covid-19, according to a study from the US.
Looking at data from all 51 US states, researchers found a gradual but steady decline in rate of viral transmission during the eight weeks of lockdown in the country. However, immediately after rules were relaxed, the trend reversed in most states. Eight weeks after restrictions were lifted or loosened, only nine of 51 still had low rates of transmission.
The team also found that the R value — a measure of how fast the infection spreads — declined by 0.012 every day during the eight weeks of restrictions. However, after physical distancing regulations were relaxed, the transmission rate increased by an average of 0.007 units per day.
Women more likely to follow Covid-19 related guidelines
Women are more likely to follow all the guidelines outlined by medical experts to prevent the spread of Covid than men, a study finds.
In a study published in the journal Behavioral Science & Policy, researchers from New York University and Yale University found that women have practiced preventive practices such as physical distancing, mask wearing and maintaining hygiene to a greater degree than men.
Women are also more likely to listen to experts and exhibit alarm and anxiety in response to Covid-19, according to the study. The researchers note that the findings are no different from pre-pandemic healthcare behaviours.
The researchers’ conclusions are based on three studies that employed various methodologies — a survey, on-the-street observations in different sites, and an analysis of movement through GPS data from approximately 15 million smart-phone coordinates.
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