New genetic analysis shows coronavirus quickly spread worldwide late last year
A new genetic analysis of the virus that causes COVID-19 taken from more than 7,600 patients around the world shows it has been circulating in people since late last year. Researchers in Britain looked at mutations in the virus and found evidence of quick spread, but no evidence the virus is becoming more easily transmitted or more likely to cause serious disease. “The virus is changing, but this in itself does not mean it’s getting worse,” Francois Balloux, a genetics researcher with the University College London Genetics Institute told CNN. Read more.
Research on mutated coronavirus strain becoming more contagious is inconclusive
Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, has said that conclusions based on a research of the new coronavirus strain mutating to become more contagious are inconclusive. The Los Alamos National Laboratory reported that a strain of the virus has mutated, spread in Europe and was associated with increased transmission. But experts have argued for caution in reviewing the conclusions. “It really doesn’t prove anything,” said Gottlieb. “It doesn’t prove that this new strain is in fact more infectious, which is what they concluded.” Read more.
New studies show children host coronavirus as much as adults
Two new studies offer evidence that children can transmit the virus. In one study, published last week in the journal Science, a team analyzed data from two cities in China – Wuhan and Shanghai – and found children were about one-third as susceptible to coronavirus infection as adults were. But when schools were open, they found that children had about three times as many contacts as adults, and three times as many opportunities to become infected, essentially evening out the risk. The second study by a group of German researchers was more straightforward. They tested children and adults and found that children who test positive host as much of the virus as adults do and sometimes more. Read more.
New York children hospitalized with symptoms of Kawasaki disease, linked to coronavirus
Fifteen children between ages 2 and 15 have been hospitalized in New York City with symptoms consistent to the rare Kawasaki disease, which was first noted in children with COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. Symptoms vary among the children depending on which organ system is affected, but “include features of Kawasaki disease or features of shock,” according to Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner of the New York City Health Department’s Division of Disease Control, in a public letter to colleagues sent this week. All the children experienced a persistent fever, more than half reported rash, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea, and less than half experienced respiratory symptoms. Read more.
Illinois announces phased reopening amid largest daily death toll
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced a five-phase reopening plan called “Restore Illinois” as the state saw its largest daily death toll from COVID-19 on Tuesday. Illinois Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said the state has seen 176 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing its total number to more than 3,800. “The truth is we are still in a significant war with an enemy,” she said. Ezike said the situation could have been worse had Gov. Pritzker not extended his stay-at-home orders to May 29. “Restore Illinois” divides the state into four regions, and the areas could move through the five phases at different times if health data for an area shows declines in cases. Read more.