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Round-up: COVID-19 October 2020 (Part Two)

As the UK, falls into stricter lockdown rules city by city, people are anxiously questioning when this will all be over. Meanwhile, researchers and scientists are working hard to gain further insight into the virus to produce the much-needed vaccine.

Here at Front Line Genomics, we have another round up of the latest news and research surrounding COVID-19 from the past fortnight.


At the time of writing, there have been:

  • 42,026,894 cases
  • 1,143,225 deaths
  • 31,206,596 recoveries


  • A new study from King’s College London, using data from the COVID Symptom Study App and ZOE, suggests long COVID affects around 10% of 18 to 49 year olds who become unwell with coronavirus. (Steves et al, 2020)
  • Researchers have developed ‘receptor traps’ – soluble variants of ACE2. The team engineered these receptors to bind to the Spike protein more strongly than wild-type ACE2. (Wells et al, 2020)
  • A recent study has profiled the lung and colon transcriptome and lung proteome of COVID-19 patients who died during the first wave of the pandemic in Wuhan. This study sheds light on COVID-19 pathophysiology. (Kasper et al, 2020)
  • Researchers have found that neuropilin-1 (NRP1), known to bind furin-cleaved substrates, significantly potentiates SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. This finding defines a potential target for antiviral intervention. (Simons et al, 2020)
  • New research suggests that a strain of coronavirus (SAD-CoVs) that has recently alarmed the swine industry may have the potential to spread to humans as well. (Baric et al, 2020)
  • An international consortium has identified important molecular mechanisms crucial for three different coronaviruses – SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV. They also found potential drugs that could be repurposed as pan-coronavirus treatments. (Gordon et al, 2020)
  • Researchers reveal the impracticality of COVID-19 herd immunity strategies and suggest that it would not be achieved without overwhelming hospital capacity. (Brett and Rohani, 2020)
  • Based on associations with weather, researchers predict that COVID-19 will decrease temporarily during summer, rebound by autumn and peak next winter. (Merow and Urban, 2020)
  • Researchers have provided a systematic review of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates. (Zhou et al, 2020)
  • A team of scientists at Duke University have identified a number of ‘silent’ mutations within the virus’s genetic code that enabled it to thrive once it jumped from bats. (Wray et al, 2020)

Other news

  • Researchers fear that a COVID-19 vaccine may not be effective for people with obesity (an already vulnerable population). (Heidi Ledford, 2020)
  • A team, led by Nobel Prize winner Dr Jennifer Doudna, have developed a test that can detect coronavirus in five minutes using gene-editing technology and a modified mobile phone camera. (Doudna et al, 2020)
  • The University of Exeter is leading the UK arm of the ‘BCG vaccination to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in healthcare workers’ (BRACE) Trial.
  • The UK is set, for the first time, to explore a human challenge study with SARS-CoV-2.  The study will involve deliberately infecting individuals with the virus.

Image credit: By starline –

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