The Daily Dose: Can the coronavirus be constructed in a lab from scratch?

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The MIT Technology Review tells the fascinating story of how biologists are trying to gain insights into potential COVID-19 treatments by creating the coronavirus from scratch. That’s right. From scratch. According to the article, “The remarkable ability to ‘boot up’ viruses from genetic instructions is made possible by companies that manufacture custom DNA molecules, such as Integrated DNA Technology, Twist Bioscience, and Atum. By ordering the right genes, which cost a few thousand dollars, and then stitching them together to create a copy of the coronavirus genome, it’s possible to inject the genetic material into cells and jump-start the virus to life.” And let the conspiracy theories begin…

The coronavirus outbreak in China has taken a devastating human toll. The draconian measures taken to get the epidemic under control has also resulted in disruptions to many industries, including science. An article in Science describes the many ways research has ground to a halt. According to one person interviewed, “‘Basically, everything has completely stopped,’ says John Speakman, who runs an animal behavior lab at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Beijing that has effectively been shut since the Lunar New Year on 25 January. ‘The disruption is enormous. The stress on the staff is really high.’ But Speakman says he understands why the Chinese government took the measures. “It’s annoying, but I completely support what they have done,’ he says.”

STAT News compiled a sort of Dramatis Personae for the World Health Organization officials leading the efforts to contain COVID-19. It’s a great resource so you know who to praise should the epidemic come under control or who to blame if things continue to deteriorate.

With every passing day that cruise goers are quarantined in Japan, more criticism of the way authorities handled (or mishandled) appears to be thrown their way.

One of Wuhan’s most senior doctors has died from a COVID-19 infection. As per the Guardian, “Liu Zhiming had taken part in the battle against the virus from the start and had made important contributions in fighting and controlling Covid-19, the Wuhan municipal health commission said. During that process, ‘unfortunately he became infected and passed away at 10.54 Tuesday morning at the age of 51 after all-out efforts to save him failed’, the commission said.”

He coronavirus outbreak is going to have some serious effects on the business sector and it won’t be limited to China. In perhaps a harbinger of what’s to come, tech giant Apple has indicated it will be negatively affected. “Apple said Monday it does not expect to make its quarterly revenue forecast due to lower iPhone supply globally and lower Chinese demand as a result of the coronavirus. Apple previously forecast revenue of $63 billion to $67 billion in its fiscal second quarter but did not give new guidance.” Good Times.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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