While Political Leaders Lock Down Borders, Scientists Have Been Razing Theirs To The Ground
The global science community is uniting in an effort to rise to fight the virus. Never before, researchers say, have so many experts in so many countries focused simultaneously on a single topic with such urgency. Meanwhile, as scientists learn about the coronavirus as they go, uncertainty can sometimes translate into mixed messages for an already confused and desperate public. In other innovation news: a nasal swab produced by a 3D printer, the backstory of the now famous image of the virus, and the race for a vaccine.
The New York Times:
Covid-19 Changed How The World Does Science, Together
Using flag-draped memes and military terminology, the Trump administration and its Chinese counterparts have cast coronavirus research as national imperatives, sparking talk of a biotech arms race. The world’s scientists, for the most part, have responded with a collective eye roll. “Absolutely ridiculous,” said Jonathan Heeney, a Cambridge University researcher working on a coronavirus vaccine. “That isn’t how things happen,” said Adrian Hill, the head of the Jenner Institute at Oxford, one of the largest vaccine research centers at an academic institution. (Apuzzo and Kirkpatrick, 4/1)
Why America Is Scared And Confused: Even The Experts Are Getting It Wrong
The CDC said Americans don’t need masks — but now they might. The agency said the virus spread through “droplets” from coughs and sneezes — but then warned about catching it from people with no symptoms, or even from surfaces, like subway turnstiles or metal shopping carts. It said young people are at low risk — but the hospital beds and morgues of New York called that into question. America’s best scientists and its vaunted public health agency are still learning on the job about the coronavirus. For a terrified American public, the kaleidoscope of changing messages has created more fear, confusion and distrust. Scientists are used to gaining knowledge one step at a time — and they’ve learned a lot in a hurry about a virus none of them had ever seen before, allowing the search for treatments and vaccines to begin. But the virus always seems one step ahead of them. (Kenen and Roubein, 3/31)
New York's Northwell Health Begins 3D Printing Nasal Swabs For Coronavirus Testing
New York-based hospital system Northwell Health said it has started to make its own nasal swabs using 3D printing, enabling it to produce thousands of swabs a day that can be used in testing for the coronavirus. Northwell said its focus on swabs was part of an effort to avoid supply shortages related to the components for kits used in testing for COVID-19, the highly contagious, sometimes deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. Carroll, 3/31)
The New York Times:
The Spiky Blob Seen Around The World
How many times have you seen the image? It looms behind newscasters during evening updates, gets handed out on printed fliers and scrolls by in tweet after tweet. It might even show up in your dreams. But for Alissa Eckert — a medical illustrator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who helped to create what has become the iconic representation of the novel coronavirus — it started out as just another assignment. (Giaimo, 4/1)
The Race For A COVID-19 Vaccine: Fast, But Fast Enough?
Dozens of scientists across the globe are expeditiously developing and testing a variety of therapeutic treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, dozens more are working to protect those who have not yet been affected by creating a vaccine. The Department of Health and Human Services just announced that the government is working with major pharmaceutical and biotech companies to speed up the development of COVID-19 vaccine trials and, ultimately, the manufacturing of said vaccines. (Nunneley, 4/1)