There is a strong chance the new coronavirus could return in seasonal cycles, a senior US scientist said Wednesday, underscoring the urgent need to find a vaccine and effective treatments.
Anthony Fauci, who leads research into infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told a briefing the virus was beginning to take root in the southern hemisphere, where winter is on its way.
“What we’re starting to see now… in southern Africa and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season,” he said.
“And if, in fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we’ll get a cycle around the second time.
“It totally emphasizes the need to do what we’re doing in developing a vaccine, testing it quickly and trying to get it ready so that we’ll have a vaccine available for that next cycle.”
There are currently two vaccines that have entered human trials — one in the US and one in China — and they could be a year to a year-and-a-half away from deployment.
Treatments are also being investigated — some new drugs and others that have been repurposed, including the antimalarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
“I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now, but we really need to be prepared for another cycle,” Fauci concluded.
Fauci’s comments suggesting the virus does better in colder weather than it does in hot and humid conditions follows a recent Chinese research paper — still preliminary and awaiting peer-review — that reached the same conclusion.
The reasons are thought to include that respiratory droplets remain airborne for longer in colder weather, and that cold weather weakens immunity.
Another potential reason is that viruses degrade more quickly on hotter surfaces, possibly because a protective layer of fat that envelops them dries out quicker.
But reduced infection rate does not mean the virus gets eliminated — Australia has had almost 2,500 confirmed cases and 8 deaths, for example.
This Europe country is housing quarantined coronavirus patients in a five-star hotel
An ambulance driver wearing a white protective gown enters a Barcelona hotel and announces the arrival of three new "customers" -- a trio of coronavirus patients discharged from hospital into luxury quarantine.
"Good morning! How are you? My name is Enrique Aranda and I am probably the first non health care worker you see in several days," says the director of the five-star Melia Sarria hotel, peering into the ambulance.
It took just three days to convert the hotel, which features contemporary decor and bathrooms with marble finishing, into a clinic.
"Some patients arrive thinking that they were taken out of hospital to be left to die, many people are frightened. I try to make them forget all that," said Aranda, wearing mask and gloves.
UK Labour to unveil new leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn
Britain's main opposition Labour party on Saturday unveils a new leader who will take the helm of a defeated and divided party in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
Keir Starmer, a former director of state prosecutions and Labour's Brexit spokesman, is the runaway favourite to win the ballot of around 500,000 party members and succeed Jeremy Corbyn.
The announcement will be a low-key affair, with a planned special conference cancelled due to restrictions on social gatherings imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Instead, the result will be put out in a press release mid-morning -- and candidates have been asked to pre-record their victory speeches.
‘Trump fires people for telling the truth’: President blasted for ‘dead of night decision’ to fire intel watchdog
President Donald Trump was harshly criticized on Friday for firing intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senate Intel Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) were among the lawmakers who took to Twitter to criticize Trump on his favorite social media platform.
Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's decision:
Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.