Special Report: Fighting the Virus | Science News

Less
than six months ago, news broke that a mysterious pneumonia was sweeping
through a city in China. For many of us in the United States, the danger seemed
too distant for concern. People continued to fly, gather for family events and
conferences — and set off on cruise ships. Within a month, though, the new
coronavirus, eventually named SARS-CoV-2, had crossed borders to at least 19
countries, including the United States. By March 17, the virus was in all 50
states. Nine days later, the United States had more active infections than
hard-hit Italy and China.

In
many countries, schools closed and moved classes online, businesses were
shuttered and people were ordered to stay home. Overwhelmed hospitals, caught
short on supplies, went searching for ventilators and personal protective gear.
People died; others feared for their lives and their livelihoods. As the virus
spread, scientists raced to figure out how the pathogen attacks and how it
might be tamed. The work continues, but the public is understandably impatient.

This special report investigates what it will take to regain some sense of normalcy. It’s going to take safe and effective treatments and a vaccine, along with testing and contact-tracing systems. The stress of the pandemic and all the uncertainty can mess with our brains, but we might need to get used to it. As George F. Gao, director general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, says: “We’ve got to dance with the virus.” — Cori Vanchieri

As we wait for a vaccine, here’s a snapshot of potential COVID-19 treatments

Though a vaccine remains the ultimate goal, researchers are on the hunt for new ways to treat COVID-19. Read more

To end social distancing, the U.S. must dramatically ramp up contact tracing

Life after social distancing may involve apps that ask you to self-isolate after you’ve been near someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Read more

What coronavirus antibody tests tell us — and what they don’t

Antibody tests can give a clearer picture of who has been infected but don’t guarantee immunity for those who test positive. Read more

How coronavirus stress may scramble our brains

The pandemic has made clear thinking a real struggle. But researchers say knowing how stress affects the brain can help people cope. Read more

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