(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Farm work is a risky business
From apple packing houses in Washington state to farm workers in Florida and a California county known as “the world’s salad bowl,” outbreaks of the novel coronavirus are emerging at U.S. fruit and vegetable farms and packing plants.
Working side-by-side and back-to-back, factory employees face the same conditions that contributed to outbreaks at U.S. meat packing plants.
By late May, there were more than 600 cases of COVID-19 among agricultural workers in Yakima County, Washington. Of those, 62% were workers in the apple industry and other packing operations or warehouses.
The health department in Monterrey County, California, reported 247 agricultural workers had tested positive for coronavirus as of June 5, 39% of county’s total cases.
Tracking down the duds in testing free-for-all
The market for COVID-19 antibody tests has ballooned in a matter of months as hundreds of products flood the world for people who want to find out whether they’ve already had the virus. The problem is, some of them don’t work properly.
As a result, European authorities aim to tighten regulation of the new sector, to weed out tests that give consistently inaccurate results and crack down on companies that make false claims.
Why do some people get sicker than others?
Diabetes, high body temperature, low oxygen saturation and pre-existing cardiac injury are some risk factors for severe COVID-19, South Korean doctors have found in a paper published by the Journal of Korean Medical Science on June 2.
The team of doctors observed 110 coronavirus patients at a hospital in Daegu, the epicentre of South Korea’s outbreak, from Feb. 19 to April 15, of whom 23 developed severe COVID-19. The patients with at least three of the four prognostic conditions developed severe conditions, said Ahn June-hong, professor of internal medicine.
Hopes for antibody cocktail
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said it has begun human testing of its experimental antibody cocktail as a treatment for COVID-19.
The trial has an “adaptive” design and could quickly move from dozens of patients to eventually include thousands, Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoulos told Reuters.
The dual antibody, called REGN-COV2, is being compared to a placebo treatment in hospitalised COVID-19 patients, and in COVID-19 patients who have symptoms but are not sick enough to be hospitalised.
Regeneron said its treatment could be useful even if a COVID-19 vaccine is developed since the elderly and people with compromised immune systems often do not respond well to vaccines.
Love in the time of COVID
Those looking for love during the COVID-19 pandemic have had to adapt to lockdown dating, but innovations such as video “pre-dates” may end up outliving the coronavirus.
In England, from Saturday, single adult households will be allowed to form a “support bubble” with one other household and stay the night, which some newspapers took as an end to what they had dubbed a sex ban. But some of the coronavirus customs that have taken root look set to persist.
Dating app Bumble is launching a feature where users can badge themselves about how they want to date, be it virtually or socially distanced with a mask.
(For an interactive graphic tracking the spread of coronavirus globally, open https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html in an external browser)
(Compiled by Linda Noakes)
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