So far, around a quarter of people infected during the outbreak of a new coronavirus have developed severe respiratory infections, and about 3 per cent have died. With the numbers still climbing alarmingly fast, many groups are already rushing to try to find treatments for the virus.
A vaccine that stops people being infected by the new coronavirus would obviously be better than any treatment, but that is some way off. “A vaccine would take at least a year, if not more,” says virologist Jonathan Ball at the University of Nottingham, UK.
The good news is that a few existing drugs might help to save lives in the meantime. And new treatments could be developed in as little as six months.
There are two ways of treating viral infections. One is to find small molecules that stop viruses replicating by interfering with viral proteins. Antivirals are usually simple to manufacture, and can be taken in pill form, both big advantages.
Prepare for a pandemic, says the World Health Organization, as the global spread of covid-19 soars by the hour. It’s not a matter of if, but when, say US health officials.
Yet so far the WHO refuses to actually call covid-19 a pandemic. Why?
The answer may lie with what kicks into gear when we deploy the P-word. Countries have pandemic plans that are launched when one is declared, but these plans may not be appropriate for combating covid-19 – and the WHO doesn’t want countries to lurch in the wrong direction.
The first working seismometer on Mars has detected 174 marsquakes in just 10 months. The results confirm that the Red Planet is both seismically and volcanically active.
By Eric Betz
NASA’s InSight lander has its seismic instrument tucked under a shield to protect it from wind and extreme temperatures.
Not far from Mars’ equator, a series of strange fissures rip deep into the Red Planet’s surface. The cracks of Cerberus Fossae run for hundreds of miles, cutting through craters, hills, and everything in their path. Relatively young looking volcanoes nearby, combined with trails of tumbling rocks, have long fueled speculation over whether the region is still active today.