New Delhi: As the number of coronavirus cases crosses 14,000 globally — scientists across the world are racing to gain new insights into the deadly virus to arrive at a possible cure.
ThePrint brings you the top research developments that have taken place worldwide.
Global megatrials for most promising COVID-19 treatments
To generate robust data on existing drugs that can be used to fight SARS-CoV-2, the WHO has launched a global effort called ‘SOLIDARITY’ that will study how effective some of the current treatment protocols are.
The organisation is focusing on four most promising therapies. The first is an experimental antiviral drug called remdesivir, which was developed to combat the Ebola virus.
The second is malaria medications, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which have shown promise in recent studies.
A combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir, and the same combination plus interferon-beta, an immune system messenger that can help cripple viruses, are also being looked at.
In a recent press briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that since multiple small trials of the coronavirus treatments with different methodologies may not provide the evidence needed, WHO and partners are organising the combined study ‘SOLIDARITY’ to compare untested treatments throughout several countries.
Chest CT scans can help reveal asymptomatic COVID-19 patients
Chinese researchers suggest that chest CT scans can help reveal coronavirus infections in people who do not experience the usual respiratory symptoms of the disease.
Since research has emerged that coronavirus can spread even before infected people show symptoms, researchers suggest using other methods to test asymptomatic people who may have been exposed to the disease — such as the family members of an infected individual.
Researchers said that a combination of multiple detection methods would be of great value for the detection of hidden asymptomatic carriers.
Chat bot to help decide if you need to get tested
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed an online chat bot, nicknamed Clara, to help a person decide whether they need to get a coronavirus test.
This ‘Coronavirus Self-Checker’ on the CDC website asks a series of questions to identify the user’s symptoms and whether they have been in contact with someone who was infected.
The bot is acting as a triage for healthcare providers as demand for coronavirus testing surges in the US.
UK scientist tracking new mutations in SARS-CoV-2
Scientists in the UK are analysing the gene sequencing of different strains of the novel coronavirus to understand its spread and are looking out for emerging mutations, according to Reuters.
The researchers will look at samples collected from infected patients from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to monitor small changes in the virus at a national or international scale.
A study from Italy, on similar lines, attempts to understand how the virus is spreading and whether different strains are emerging.
Lancet study calls for rational use of face masks
In an article published in renowned science journal The Lancet, researchers call for governments around the world to discourage the use of face masks to preserve the resources for those who actually need it.
The researchers argue that wearing a face mask does not provide any extra protection to healthy individuals, and gives people a false sense of security.
They point out that the WHO currently recommends that people should wear face masks only if they have respiratory symptoms or if they are caring for somebody with symptoms.
Universal use of face masks creates a shortage for healthcare professionals.
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