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A look at the latest developments in combatting Covid-19 – this week’s Friday Five

Imperial College model spurs UK government to change course of action

Researchers from Imperial College London have modelled the impact of multiple public health measures on slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The model assessed the impact of different combinations of public health measures which could either slow the spread of coronavirus or suppress the outbreak.

In each case the likely impacts on number of deaths and healthcare demand were estimated, which indicated that wide-scale social distancing measures would now be necessary to reduce further spread and prevent our health system being overwhelmed.

This piece of evidence heavily influenced government decisions to tighten public health measures this week.

Read more on the Imperial College website.

Macaque monkeys can’t be re-infected by Covid-19

A small study by scientist at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences has suggested that monkeys exposed to the Covid-19 coronavirus could not contract an infection a second time.

There is still very little known about how the human immune system responds Covid-19, and whether those who have been infected develop lasting immunity. But this preliminary study could be good news for humans, who historically show an immune response to the virus that’s similar to their primate cousins.


Anti-malaria drug chloroquine could quicken coronavirus recovery

Results from a small study in France have suggested that the anti-malaria drug chloroquine could be effective in treating Covid-19 infections.

Lab studies in China showed that the drug was effective against Covid-19 in a petri-dish and these results published this week suggest that the efficacy could be repeated in humans.

Chloroquine and a related drug, hydroxychloroquine, are among the four treatments tested in an international clinical trial, announced on Wednesday by the World Health Organization.

Read more in The Guardian.

 The race for a Covid-19 vaccine

After the Covid-19 genetic sequence was sequenced in China in January 2020, scientists across the world have been racing to create a vaccine that will protect against virus.

Now, 35 companies and academic institutions are racing to create a Covid-19 vaccine and at least four of which already have candidates they have been testing in animals. The first, produced by Boston-based biotech firm Moderna, will enter clinical trials imminently.

There is no doubt that a vaccine for Covid-19 could help control the coronavirus pandemic. However, even if an effective vaccine is developed, a further set of challenges will need to be overcome to make sure the vaccine gets to all those who need it.

Read more in The Guardian.

Disproven! Rumours that Covid-19 was deliberately engineered

A scientist from the Scripps Research Institute in California has found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered.

By comparing the Covid-19 virus genome to genome sequence data of known coronavirus strains the scientist confirmed originated through natural evolution.

Josie Golding, the epidemics lead at the Wellcome Trust, said the findings are “crucially important to bring an evidence-based view to the rumours that have been circulating about the origins of the virus causing Covid-19.”

Read more on the Science Daily website.

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