All the resources you need in the global battle against the coronavirus

| March 25, 2020
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Curious about the state of research into screening and diagnostic tools for the coronavirus? Maybe you want to keep up to date on the latest efforts to develop vaccines and treatments. Or perhaps you are wondering which manufacturers are making respirators and face masks? What are the best practices for those masks? Golden Research is offering a sort of one-stop shop for an array of issues related to the coronavirus.

The site offers a range of resources, broken into these major categories:

  • COVID-19 treatments and vaccines
  • COVID-19 diagnostics and screening
  • COVID-19 sequencing
  • Materials and products related to COVID-19 prevention
  • Critical care equipment
  • Infectious disease tracking
  • Fraudulent COVID-19 products
  • Medical journals and COVID-19 resource centers
  • Services related to COVID-19

Among the highlights:

COVID-19 treatments and vaccines

Golden notes that there aren’t currently any FDA approved treatments for COVID-19. And there are no vaccines.  The site does offer a lengthy charts, tracking the wide range of companies racing to come up with vaccines and treatments. Among them:

Chloroquine is quinoline derivative and a drug in widespread use since 1945 for treatment of malaria, autoimmune and other conditions. Chloroquine is being investigated to treat COVID-19 in the form of chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate which are sometimes referred to as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine respectively. Chloroquine is reported to be giving favorable results in clinical testing against COVID-19.

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COVID-19 diagnostics and screening

Here again, the site has collected data on nearly two dozen research firms working on improving our ability to rapidly diagnose infected people. Current tests typically take 24-48 hours to get results.

Many diagnostic or screening methods are in development and still need verification. The aim is to develop diagnostic tests that could potentially be deployed more widely in hospitals and clinics and with quicker turn-around times. The purpose of diagnostics and screening is not only for patient isolation but also for overall monitoring of the spread of COVID-19.

Materials and products related to COVID-19 prevention

The site notes that the virus appears to be transmitted through close contact – via droplets produced while sneezing or coughing. The best way to protect yourself is by keeping your hands clean, with alcohol-based sanitizers and soap and water. Avoid touching your face. And stay 3 feet away from people who exhibit respiratory symptoms. Medical masks should generally be reserved for people who have symptoms.

The purchasing of protective face masks by the public is feared to cause a shortage for health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to healthcare workers, a shortage of protective masks would slow scientific research on treatments and vaccines to SARS-CoV-2 since personnel need to be protected from the pathogens that they work with in the lab. For healthy asymptomatic individuals, who are not healthcare workers or caring for patients at home, wearing of a face mask is not recommended by the WHO.

Interestingly, one of the reasons medical masks are in short supply is the fact that China is one of the world’s top manufacturers of them. And the country is largely keeping them for its own uses during this crisis:

In China, the police require anyone going out in public to wear a mask. As of March 13, 2020, export of masks had not fully resumed, including no authorization for exports from Canadian manufacturer Medicom’s Shanghai factory, which produces 3 million masks a day. The Chinese government stated it was sending five million masks to South Korea and 100,000 respirators and two million surgical masks to Italy, as well as donations to Iran and the Philippines. The banning of export of masks has occurred in European countries as well.

Sanitization

There is a wide range of options, including chemical and ultra violet light, being pursued to kill the virus in various environments. In China, for example, UV disinfecting robots are being used in hospitals. Israeli textile company Sonovia is developing an anti-pathogen fabric. And Utah’s PhoneSoap is working on a UV device that charges and clean phones and other personal electronic equipment.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Taking vitamin D is the 'least crackpot' of the coronavirus nutrition ideas

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Infectious disease tracking

Golden is tracking the efforts of a handful of organizations that are attempting to track the spread of the coronavirus. Among them is BlueDot, the AI company noted for its early warnings about the potential for an outbreak.

BlueDot’s system identified an article in Chinese on Dec. 31, 2019, about “pneumonia of unknown cause” and issued an alert to its clients almost one week before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization issued their public alerts.

Also included is the COVID Tracking Project, which collects and distributes data on testing results in all 50 states.

Fraudulent COVID-19 products

And what would any health crisis be these days without someone trying to sell something that promises to solve our problems? Of course, not all of those somethings are legitimate. Golden is tracking the companies that have been slapped on the wrist by the US Food and Drug Administration for “selling fraudulent products for the prevention, treatment, mitigation, diagnosis, and cure of COVID-19.”

Among the companies that have been told to knock it off: GuruNanda, The Jim Bakker Show, Herbal Amy and Colloidal Vitality.

Tim Barker is managing editor for the Genetic Literacy Project. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @tbarker13

The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

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