What you need to know about the coronavirus right now - Metro US

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

A quarantine worker sprays disinfectants at night spots of Itaewon neighborhood, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Seoul

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Vaccine “moonshot”

The new coronavirus could be here to stay: so believes World Health Organization emergencies expert Mike Ryan, suggesting it could become endemic like HIV.

Ryan said controlling the impact would take a “massive effort” globally, even if a vaccine was found – a prospect he described as a “massive moonshot” given the technical difficulties involved.

Separately the European Medicines Agency, which approves medicines for the European Union, said a vaccine could be approved in about a year under an “optimistic” scenario.

Antibody tests: queue here

One thing that could help will be accurate antibody tests to establish who has already had the disease and therefore may have from a degree of immunity. Britain confirmed on Thursday it is in talks with Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG to buy its test, following the lead of the European Union and United States which have already given it their preliminary approval.

What remains unclear is how many orders have already been placed by other countries and when those tests would arrive.

“We are now moving as fast as we can to discuss with Roche purchasing of those but I can’t give you an exact date when we’ll be able to start rolling them out,” said Edward Argar, Britain’s junior health minister.

Taxing tracing

South Korean health authorities said on Thursday that they would try to reduce the amount of information released to the public about coronavirus patients and their travel routes, in an effort to stop social stigmatisation and compel around 2,000 people wanted for testing to come forward.

The effort to find the group over a spike in infections centred on Seoul’s nightclubs and bars has been complicated by public criticism of the clubgoers, as well as concerns about discrimination as several of the clubs cater to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

South Korea has typically released information like a patient’s age, gender, and places visited immediately before testing positive, as well as in some cases, patients’ last names and general occupations.

Bamboo supply disrupted

Two giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, are heading home to China from Calgary years ahead of schedule, as their bamboo supply has been disrupted due to coronavirus.

Before the pandemic, bamboo had been flown directly from China to Calgary to feed the pandas, but since those flights have been cancelled, the zoo has been forced to find new ways to feed the pandas. Shipments are now often delayed, resulting in poor quality bamboo the pandas refuse to eat.

“We believe the best and safest place for Er Shun and Da Mao to be during these challenging and unprecedented times is where bamboo is abundant and easy to access,” said Calgary Zoo President and CEO Clément Lanthier in a statement.

Giant pandas consume 40 kg (88 lbs) of bamboo a day and it makes up 99% of their diet, the zoo said.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Mark John; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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