Scientists

Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Coronavirus Vaccine Project

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, speaks during a coronavirus task force news conference in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020. (Samuel Corum/The New York Times)
Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, speaks during a coronavirus task force news conference in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020. (Samuel Corum/The New York Times)

In April, with hospitals overwhelmed and much of the United States in lockdown, the Department of Health and Human Services produced a presentation for the White House arguing that rapid development of a coronavirus vaccine was the best hope to control the pandemic.

“DEADLINE: Enable broad access to the public by October 2020,” the first slide read, with the date in bold.

Given that it typically takes years to develop a vaccine, the timetable for the initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, was incredibly ambitious. With tens of thousands dying and tens of millions out of work, the crisis demanded an all-out public-private response, with the government supplying billions of dollars to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, providing logistical support

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How scientists revived an old-school treatment for a 21st century pandemic

Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist and physician at Johns Hopkins University, has spearheaded a nationwide initiative to test the healing powers of "convalescent plasma" from COVID-19 survivors. <span class="copyright">(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)</span>
Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist and physician at Johns Hopkins University, has spearheaded a nationwide initiative to test the healing powers of “convalescent plasma” from COVID-19 survivors. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

A few weeks after the new coronavirus arrived on U.S. shores, Dr. Arturo Casadevall hatched a plan to beat back the outbreak with a medical advance so powerful it had earned a Nobel Prize.

In 1901.

That’s when Dr. Emil Adolf von Behring was honored for pioneering the use of so-called convalescent serum as a treatment for diphtheria. In 1892, the Prussian bacteriologist infected horses with the pathogen that causes the deadly disease. If the beasts recovered, Von Behring harvested their blood, removed its red blood cells and clotting proteins, and introduced the resulting antibody-rich fluid into the bloodstreams of human diphtheria patients.

Until a diphtheria vaccine came into broad use in the 1930s, Von Behring’s daring

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Scientists Plan To Urge WHO To Take Airborne Spread Of Coronavirus More Seriously

A group of 239 scientists plans to urge the World Health Organization to more seriously consider the threat that the novel coronavirus may be spread by microscopic particles in the air.

The New York Times first reported Saturday that an international coalition of researchers will publish an open letter asking WHO to address airborne transmission of the virus. The scientists say there is growing evidence tiny aerosols can linger in the air indoors and result in new infections.

Throughout the pandemic, WHO has maintained that the virus spreads mainly through larger respiratory droplets or contact and has primarily urged people to wash their hands and socially-distance to prevent infection. These droplets, released by coughs or sneezes, are heavier than smaller aerosols and fall to the floor more quickly, thus presenting less of a threat if proper distance is maintained between a healthy and infected person.

However, if airborne transmission of

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