Swiss urged to ‘hit the slopes’ to save ski season

by Agnès PEDRERO Agence France-Presse VERBIER, Switzerland (AFP) — The coronavirus crisis shuttered Switzerland’s ski resorts in the spring, but they are banking on tighter precautions and the Swiss love of the mountains to save them as the winter season kicks off. A cable car ride to the top of the slopes at Verbier, where staff wear plastic face shields, reveals the extent to which the pandemic has impacted even the furthest reaches of the […]

Frontrunners emerge in race for Covid-19 vaccine

PARIS, France (AFP) — Dozens of companies, from biotech start-ups to Big Pharma, are racing to develop a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, both to meet urgent medical need and for the potential payday. Here’s an update on the quest for a magic bullet against the coronavirus that has already killed more than a million people worldwide. How many in the pipeline? The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 42 “candidate vaccines” at the stage […]

Covid-19 vaccine ‘best science news’ of 2020

by Nina LARSON Agence France-Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Data indicating that a vaccine being developed against Covid-19 is highly effective is the “best science news of the year”, a pharmaceutical industry association chief said, voicing hope that other vaccine candidates would show equally good results. “A vaccine that has 90 percent efficacy and is pretty safe, that is a historic breakthrough,” the head of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), Thomas […]

Coronavirus ‘can survive for 28 days on surfaces’: study

by Holly ROBERTSON Agence France-Presse BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) — The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can survive on items such as banknotes and phones for up to 28 days in cool, dark conditions, according to a study by Australia’s national science agency. Researchers at CSIRO’s disease preparedness centre tested the longevity of SARS-CoV-2 in the dark at three temperatures, showing survival rates decreased as conditions became hotter, the agency said Monday. The scientists found that at 20 […]

Chinese bus offers new evidence of airborne coronavirus spread: study

WASHINGTON D.C., United States (AFP) — A person on a poorly ventilated Chinese bus infected nearly two dozen other passengers with coronavirus even though many weren’t sitting close by, according to research published on Tuesday that offers fresh evidence the disease can spread in the air. Health authorities had initially discounted the possibility that simply breathing could send infectious micro-droplets into the air, but did a U-turn as experts piled on pressure and evidence mounted. […]

Study shows how masks with valves and face shields allow spread of virus

WASHINGTON D.C., United States (AFP) — People wearing plastic face shields or masks fitted with a valve can spray invisible droplets over a very wide area when they sneeze or cough, making the devices ineffective at preventing the spread of coronavirus when used on their own, a simulation model shows. In a report published Tuesday in the US journal Physics of Fluids, researchers at Florida Atlantic University used vertical and horizontal laser sheets to track […]

Robot eases loneliness of Mexican virus patients

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — A robot at a hospital in the Mexican capital is providing a lifeline for coronavirus patients separated from their relatives and reducing the risk of infection for medical workers. “Hi, I’m LaLuchy Robotina! What’s your name?” the 1.4-meter-tall (4.6 feet) robot asks patients as it goes from room to room. It moves around on wheels and has a camera and display screen enabling relatives and doctors to chat with patients […]

Fires ‘poisoning air’ in Amazon: study

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Rampant fires in the Amazon are “poisoning the air” of the world’s biggest rainforest, causing a sharp rise in respiratory emergencies in a region already hit hard by Covid-19, said a study published Wednesday. The fires that engulfed the Brazilian Amazon last year to global outcry caused an estimated 2,195 people in the region to be hospitalized for respiratory distress driven by inhaling smoke-polluted air, found the study by […]

Women may mount stronger Covid-19 immune response

by Kelly MACNAMARA Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A new study looking at male and female immune responses to the new coronavirus may shed new light on why men are more likely to become seriously ill with Covid-19, researchers said Wednesday. Since early in the pandemic it has been clear that men, particularly older men, are at a far higher risk of dying from the virus than women of a similar age, but scientists […]

Hong Kong: first ‘proven’ case of COVID reinfection

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Researchers in Hong Kong Monday identified what they said was the first confirmed case worldwide of COVID-19 reinfection, raising questions about the durability of immunity, whether acquired naturally or with a vaccine. “Our study proves that immunity for COVID infection is not lifelong — in fact, reinfection can occur quite quickly,” said Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a microbiologist at Hong Kong University’s Faculty of Medicine and lead […]

Amazon indigenous protesters vow indefinite roadblock

NOVO PROGRESSO, Brazil (AFP) — Armed with spears and bows, dozens of indigenous protesters in Brazil vowed Thursday to maintain a roadblock on a key highway until the authorities listen to their demands for help fighting COVID-19 and deforestation. Members of the Kayapo Mekranoti ethnic group have been blocking highway BR-163 through the Amazon since Monday outside the northern town of Novo Progresso. But they vowed that they would no longer lift their blockade periodically to […]

Brazil indigenous protesters defy court, resume roadblock

NOVO PROGRESSO, Brazil (AFP) — Indigenous protesters in Brazil defied a court order Tuesday and resumed a roadblock of a key highway through the Amazon rainforest, demanding help against the new coronavirus and an end to illegal mining and deforestation. Brandishing bows and wearing traditional feather headdresses and body paint, dozens of protesters from the Kayapo Mekranoti ethnic group have been blocking highway BR-163 through the Amazon rainforest since Monday morning. They briefly lifted their […]