• Science

    What do coronavirus variants mean for reinfection and vaccines?

    Vaccine rollout in the United States has been undeniably slow. And while we wait, worrisome new coronavirus variants are emerging, heightening the urgency to control the pandemic. Some variants, including ones first identified in Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom, have mutations that help the coronavirus evade parts of the immune system, raising the specter that some people might face a second round of COVID-19. All of this can make it feel like the pandemic has come full circle and that we are back where we started. But even in the face of potential reinfections, the world has a tool at its disposal that didn’t exist a year ago:…

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  • Science

    The Coronavirus Is a Master of Mixing Its Genome, Worrying Scientists

    In recent weeks, scientists have sounded the alarm about new variants of the coronavirus that carry a handful of tiny mutations, some of which seem to make vaccines less effective. But it is not just these small genetic changes that are raising concerns. The novel coronavirus has a propensity to mix large chunks of its genome when it makes copies of itself. Unlike small mutations, which are like typos in the sequence, a phenomenon called recombination resembles a major copy-and-paste error in which the second half of a sentence is completely overwritten with a slightly different version. A flurry of new studies suggests that recombination may allow the virus to…

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  • Education

    Education Department Will Begin To Track School Reopening : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

    School children wearing facemasks walk outside Condit Elementary School near Houston in December. The U.S. Department of Education announced Friday that it will begin collecting data on the status of in-person learning during the pandemic. François Picard/AFP via Getty Images hide caption toggle caption François Picard/AFP via Getty Images School children wearing facemasks walk outside Condit Elementary School near Houston in December. The U.S. Department of Education announced Friday that it will begin collecting data on the status of in-person learning during the pandemic. François Picard/AFP via Getty Images Ever since the pandemic closed the nation’s schools in March 2020, there has been no official national source for understanding where…

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  • Science

    Why a particular coronavirus mutation has scientists’ attention

    Scientists have zeroed in on a handful of mutations in the coronavirus that they say could pose new public health challenges if they circulate widely. Their focus: the tiny spike proteins that cover the outside of the virus. It’s those proteins that researchers have targeted to create vaccines, using them to prime the body’s immune system to make antibodies to fight the virus. But it’s also where they’ve observed some mutations that have forced vaccine manufacturers to react. A variant first found in South Africa is of particular interest because of mutations to the spike protein that can make antibodies less effective. Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak And while…

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  • Science

    Andrew Brooks, Who Developed a Coronavirus Spit Test, Dies at 51

    After working at the University of Rochester Medical Center for four years, he returned to New Jersey to take a job at Rutgers, and in 2009 joined its Cell and DNA Repository, a university-owned company that provides data management and analysis for biological research. Updated  Feb. 1, 2021, 5:11 a.m. ET Dr. Brooks became the company’s chief operating officer, and discovered he had a flair for the business side of science. He grew the company from just a few dozen employees to nearly 250, working with nearly every major pharmaceutical company, among other clients. The Coronavirus Outbreak › Words to Know About Testing Confused by the terms about coronavirus testing?…

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  • Jobs

    These 10 jobs are the most dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic, study says

    CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cooks, agriculture workers and construction workers rank among the most dangerous jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study. Experts have known since the start of the pandemic that essential workers face a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. But researchers from the University of California San Francisco found that certain occupations, even those outside of the health care industry, also face a greater risk of death. The researchers examined death records from California, so the list of the most dangerous jobs is specific to that state. A preprint of the study was published Jan. 22 in medRxiv, an online archive of medical and health science…

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  • Science

    U.S. is in a ‘race against time’ with new coronavirus variants, scientists warn

    The United States is in a race against time to vaccinate as many people as possible before other potentially more worrisome variants of the coronavirus emerge, according to experts. Vaccination efforts in the U.S. have been hamstrung by delivery issues, insufficient supply and hesitancy to get the shots. But to avert another surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, scientists say it may be necessary to rethink how the vaccines are rolled out to ramp up the number of shots administered and to protect against new strains of the virus. “We really are in a race against new variants,” said Wan Yang, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman…

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