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19 encouraging developments in the coronavirus crisis

Amid all the grim headlines, there are some positive developments worth celebrating

19 encouraging developments in the coronavirus crisis

Financial markets are tumbling, borders are closing, hospitalizations are on the rise — the news of late has been relentlessly grim. There are, however, a few bright developments in the fight against COVID-19 that are worth highlighting. China has closed its makeshift coronavirus hospitals, for instance, and scientists are crowdsourcing possible treatments via online games. 

Here are 19 developments in the COVID-19 outbreak that offer a bit of hope. 

Cases are on the decline in parts of Asia

The number of new COVID-19 infections appears to be on the decline in China and South Korea. According to a WHO official, it’s possible that with proper containment the natural course of the outbreak can occur without a very high peak.

China has closed its temporary hospitals

With the number of new COVID-19 cases dwindling in China, the country has now shut down all of Wuhan’s makeshift coronavirus hospitals. The last temporary centre discharged its final patients on March 10 to cheers, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Apple stores have reopened in China

Efforts to contain the spread in China have improved conditions enough to reopen all Apple stores in the country. Many of the company’s suppliers have also reopened, including the biggest iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn. 

Beijing is helping other countries

China is providing aid — in the form of donations and medical expertise — to countries around the world as the virus spreads.

Researchers are getting a handle on the virus

A Canadian research team based at Sunnybrook hospital has isolated and copied the COVID-19 virus, which enables scientists to develop better diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines. Plus, researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and Utrecht University say they have discovered an antibody capable of fending off a COVID-19 infection. The discovery could lead to an antiviral medication, and the ability for people to test themselves at home. 

Promising treatments are being developed

A Japanese flu drug developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm has produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzhen involving 340 patients. Patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen tested negative for the virus after a median of four days, compared with a median of 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug.

A technique that involves using the antibodies from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection as a treatment for newly infected patients is being considered at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. The method, which is faster than developing a vaccine, has been used during previous outbreaks, including 1918 Spanish flu and SARS.

India’s Health Ministry is recommending the use of anti-HIV drugs on a case-to-case basis for high-risk patients with coronavirus who are aged 60 and older and suffering from diabetes mellitus, renal failure, chronic lung disease and are immuno-compromised.

A team of researchers in Australia is testing two drugs which could provide a cure. According to Professor David Paterson at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research two drugs used to treat other conditions wipe out the virus in test tubes.

Toronto-based startup Cyclica has partnered with Beijing medical institution Materia Medica to discover antiviral drug candidates for the coronavirus using Cyclica’s AI technology. By using AI, the team hopes to identify multiple therapies to treat the coronavirus, while saving time and money.

A new global trial is now underway

A new study, led by WHO, will compare treatments across the world in order to find what is most effective in fighting the coronavirus. Ten countries have committed to the project: Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand.

Researchers are working on COVID-19 vaccine

Quebec City-based biotech Medicago announced it has produced a virus-like particle of the novel coronavirus, a first step toward producing a vaccine. The company said it could begin human trials as soon as July or August if their vaccine candidate is approved by Health Canada and other agencies.

Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle administered the first round of a potential coronavirus vaccine to several dozen volunteers. The vaccine candidate was developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc.

A team of scientists at the Israel Institute for Biological Research had a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus and are close to announcing a vaccine. 

The San Diego-based biotech company, Arcturus Therapeutics, announced that it has identified a COVID-19 vaccine and it’s now working on manufacturing it. The company uses a very tiny dose, in micrograms, which differentiates them from other vaccine makers.

Data sharing is helping in the fight

Data sharing is helping researchers gain a more complete picture of the pandemic in record time. Tools include NextStrain, which traces the genetic mutations of the novel coronavirus and other pathogens, and the COVID-19 dashboard developed by Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, one of the first to compile and publish global data on new cases. 

Recovery rates are on the rise 

More than 60,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus around the world. While the disease can cause a varying degree of illness and is particularly problematic for older people and those with existing health problems, for most, coronavirus creates only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, with the vast majority recovering after about two weeks. 

Pollution is down

Regions experiencing coronavirus outbreaks are seeing dramatically reduced pollution levels. Satellite images of China and Italy show how quarantines cause a decrease in air pollution and cleaner waters.

Caring for others is contagious

Canadians are being credited with launching a new movement during the crisis: “caremongering.” Community-based acts of kindness are trending on social media and inspiring grocery deliveries for those who are unable, virtual pub nights and balcony concerts