China Invested Billions To Rate As A Giant In Health Sciences. Now That Infrastructure Is Put To The Test.
Nearly a month after discovering the first cases, Chinese health officials have made little progress in stopping its spread. Experts say China’s skills in certain basic public-health tasks, such as outbreak investigations, are uneven. So what does all that mean for China's investments in becoming a world leader in health? Meanwhile, Chinese scientists are testing an HIV drug to treat coronavirus symptoms. And media outlets take a look at the science behind the outbreak and response.
The Wall Street Journal:
China’s Vast Ambition In Medicine Gets Reality Check From Coronavirus
China wants to become a world leader in health and science. It has invested billions in cutting-edge drugs, state-of-the-art laboratories and research at the frontiers of medicine. Its political leaders want Chinese scientists to win Nobel Prizes. All that prowess and ambition is now being put to the test by an elementary health challenge: a deadly infectious disease outbreak. Early indications are that its performance is troubled. (McKay, Areddy and Deng, 1/24)
China Testing HIV Drug As Treatment For New Coronavirus, AbbVie Says
China is testing an HIV drug as a treatment for symptoms of the new coronavirus that is rapidly spreading, said drugmaker AbbVie Inc on Sunday. China health authorities requested the drug to help with the government's efforts to address the crisis, according to Adelle Infante, a spokeswoman for North Chicago, Illinois-based AbbVie. (1/26)
The Wall Street Journal:
Relatives Wonder Why Pneumonia Deaths Not In Coronavirus Tally
A 53-year-old fitness trainer died on Wednesday after checking into a hospital in Wuhan a little more than a week earlier, said his niece. His family had expected the death certificate to reflect the deadly coronavirus, because as his condition deteriorated, his doctors told his family he was suffering from an untreatable virus in his lungs. Instead, it recorded “severe pneumonia” as the cause of death, she said. The relatives of two other people who died in separate hospitals in Wuhan this week also described similar situations, saying the causes of death had been given as “viral pneumonia.” The relatives of all three said the deceased hadn’t been included in China’s official count of 41 deaths attributed to coronavirus. (Fan, 1/24)
DNA Sleuths Read The Coronavirus Genome, Tracing Its Origins
As infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists race to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus centered on Wuhan, China, they’re getting backup that’s been possible only since the explosion in genetic technologies: a deep-dive into the DNA of the virus known as 2019-nCoV. Analyses of the viral genome are already providing clues to the origins of the outbreak and even possible ways to treat the infection, a need that is becoming more urgent by the day: Early on Saturday in China, health officials reported 15 new fatalities in a single day, bringing the death toll to 41. There are now nearly 1,100 confirmed cases there. Reading the DNA also allows researchers to monitor how 2019-nCoV is changing and provides a roadmap for developing a diagnostic test and a vaccine. (Begley, 1/24)
New Coronavirus Can Cause Infections With No Symptoms And Sicken Otherwise Healthy People, Studies Show
Two papers published Friday in the journal the Lancet offer some of the first rigorous analyses of patients who contracted a novel coronavirus that has broken out in China and spread to other countries. Among their discoveries: The virus does not only affect people with other, underlying health conditions, and people who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus. (Joseph, 1/24)
How Fast Can Biotech Come Up With A Vaccine For The Latest Outbreak?
Moderna Therapeutics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are among the companies turning their focus to the emerging virus, called 2019-nCoV. Each has received millions in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global organization that has set an audacious goal: to have a vaccine ready for human testing, a process that traditionally takes years, in just 16 weeks. (Garde, 1/24)
The Coronavirus In China Could Threaten Pharma's Ingredient Source
As a novel coronavirus spreads through China and rattles the rest of the world, the pharmaceutical industry is on guard over the adequacy of its global supply chain. Over the past decade, China has become a bigger player in the market for active pharmaceutical ingredients, which are the building blocks found in each drug. China is now home to 13% of all facilities that make ingredients for medicines that are sold in the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration. By comparison, 28% of such facilities are in the U.S. and 26% are in the European Union. Most ingredient production is concentrated in Zhejiang province, which is something of a manufacturing hub that lies along the East China Sea, far from the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, explained a source familiar with the Chinese pharmaceutical market but who asked not to be named. (Silverman, 1/27)
Coronavirus: What Are The Symptoms And What You Need To Know
The World Health Organization has declined to categorize the coronavirus outbreak in China as a global health emergency, and this week said there is no evidence of human-to-human infection outside China. But as of Friday, more than 800 people in China had been diagnosed with the virus and 26 had died from it and a small number of cases had been diagnosed in other countries, including at least one case in the U.S. (Alund, 1/24)