While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus update for March 29

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Assembly Hall vaccine center. Beginning Monday, Monroe County will move its vaccine clinic from the Monroe Convention Center to Indiana University’s Assembly Hall.

The vaccine clinic will be open to all eligible Hoosiers, not just IU students or people who work at the Bloomington campus.

WHO report findings. A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.

The findings were largely as expected and left many questions unanswered, but the report provided in-depth detail on the reasoning behind the team’s conclusions. The researchers proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.

Virus stalls anti-smoking efforts? A year after COVID-19 upended life for millions of Americans, there are troubling signs that the coronavirus may have also slowed progress against another deadly health threat: smoking.

Fewer smokers called quit-smoking hotlines last year and some smoked more, contributing to an unusual bump in cigarette sales — all in the middle of the stress, anxiety and uncertainty from the pandemic.

“It’s hard for folks to quit using tobacco in the best of times, so what happens when life is suddenly turned upside down?” said Jen Cash, who oversees Minnesota’s anti-tobacco programs.

UK variant hunters. On March 4, 2020, when there were just 84 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.K., professor Sharon Peacock recognized that the country needed to expand its capacity to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus.

The Cambridge University microbiologist understood that genomic sequencing would be crucial in tracking the disease, controlling outbreaks and developing vaccines. So she began working with colleagues around the country to put together a plan. Within a month, the government had provided 20 million pounds ($28 million) to fund their work.

The initiative helped make Britain a world leader in rapidly analyzing the genetic material from large numbers of COVID-19 infections, generating more than 40% of the genomic sequences identified to date.

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