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Daily briefing: Birdwatching artificial-intelligence system can recognize individuals

Mutations allow virus to elude antibodies

Mutations that affect the coronavirus’s spike protein — which it uses to infect cells — might help the virus to thwart potent immune molecules called neutralizing antibodies. Researchers showed that spike proteins from an engineered virus that had acquired these mutations were able to evade the antibodies. They suggest that treatment ‘cocktails’ of multiple neutralizing antibodies, each recognizing a different part of the spike protein, could stop the virus from evolving resistance.

Reference: bioRxiv preprint

Power of virus-control campaign seen in pattern of symptoms

In China, a key metric of epidemics called the serial interval shrank drastically soon after the new coronavirus’s arrival — a finding that underscores the success of testing and isolation efforts. The serial interval is the average time between the onset of symptoms in a chain of people infected by a pathogen. Epidemiologists found that in China the serial interval plummeted from 7.8 days to 2.6 days over a 5-week period starting on 9 January. They say that early isolation of cases prevented transmission, leading to fewer cases and slowing the spread of the virus.

Reference: Science paper

Infection rates in Dogs and cats mirror those of people

Cats and dogs are just as likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 as people are, according to a survey in northern Italy. Scientists took swabs from the noses, throats or rectums of 540 dogs and 277 cats between March and May. None of the pets tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA, but in further tests of antibodies against the virus circulating in the blood of some animals, the researchers found that around 3% of dogs and 4% of cats showed evidence of previous infection.

Reference: bioRxiv preprint

Virus rips through school after mask usage is suspended

More than 150 students at an Israeli secondary school were infected by the coronavirus after students were allowed to remove their masks during a heatwave. Roughly 10 days after Israeli schools fully reopened on 17 May, two students at a secondary school in Jerusalem were diagnosed with COVID-19. The resulting outbreak infected 153 students and 25 members of staff. By mid-June, a further 87 cases had occurred among the close contacts of people infected through the school outbreak.

Reference: Eurosurveillance paper

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