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COVID-19 science news coverage

Clips and links to recent articles about Los Alamos science





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Scientists Have Developed Artificial Intelligence That Tells Us How Bill Gates COVID Conspiracy And Other Theories Spread Online Unilad (4/20/21)
Multiple conspiracy theories have come to light over the course of the pandemic. From the virus being a result of 5G, to the vaccine being created so tech mogul Bill Gates can implant microchips into people, it’s safe to say some of them have been pretty wild. Many of these theories have been spread online, and scientists think they’ve worked out a way to find out just how these theories have snowballed as far as they have.

Simulations reveal how dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain binds to host, succumbs to antibodiesScience Daily (4/16/21)
Large-scale supercomputer simulations at the atomic level show that the dominant G form variant of the COVID-19-causing virus is more infectious partly because of its greater ability to readily bind to its target host receptor in the body, compared to other variants. These research results from a Los Alamos National Laboratory-led team illuminate the mechanism of both infection by the G form and antibody resistance against it, which could help in future vaccine development.

Vaccines that can protect against many coronaviruses could prevent another pandemicScience Mag (4/15/21)
In 2017, three leading vaccine researchers submitted a grant application with an ambitious goal. At the time, no one had proved a vaccine could stop even a single beta coronavirus—the notorious viral group then known to include the lethal agents of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), as well as several causes of the common cold and many bat viruses. But these researchers wanted to develop a vaccine against them all.

How New Mexico became the state with the highest rate of full vaccinationsNew York Times (4/14/21)
Despite having one of the highest poverty rates in the country, New Mexico is surging past states with far more resources in the race to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus.

The Rise of the VariantsBloomberg (4/7/21)
When scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory found a new mutation that appeared to make the coronavirus more contagious last spring, many scientists were skeptical. But it turned out to be a harbinger.

COVID mutants multiply as scientists race to decode variationsBloomberg (4/5/21)
When Bette Korber, a biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, spotted the first significant mutation in the Covid-19 virus last spring, some scientists were skeptical. They didn’t believe it would make the virus more contagious and said its rapid rise might just be coincidence.

COVID-19: What do we know about the new coronavirus variant?Medical News Today (1/18/21)
An amino acid in the spike protein at position 614 is changed from aspartic acid to glycine. Research by Dr. Bette Korber, from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, and colleagues suggests that this change allows the variant to infect people more easily.

LANL shifting gears to fight COVID-19KRQE (12/26/20)
Los Alamos National Laboratory is turning from national defense to helping fight COVID-19. LANL researchers are looking at ways to help clear mucus from blocking airways in the lungs, which can be common in COVID-19 patients.

Los Alamos National Lab uses new supercomputer to study COVID-19KOB (11/6/20)
Los Alamos National Laboratory has a new High Performance Computer (HPC) called Chicoma to help fight COVID-19. Karissa Sanbonmatsu, a scientist with LANL, is using the supercomputer along with other scientists.

Los Alamos National Lab Chronicles Its Multifaceted Computing Battle Against COVID-19HPC Wire (12/8/20)
Well before COVID-19 struck New Mexico, New Mexico was striking COVID-19. Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) began its research on COVID-19 in late January, one of several national labs to position itself as an early mover in fighting the pandemic research with high-performance computing. As the pandemic nears the one-year mark, LANL has published a retrospective highlighting the wide variety of COVID-19 computing projects that the lab hosted over the last 11 months.

Will the Coronavirus Evolve to Be Less Deadly? —Scientific American (11/16/20)
In July, a SARS-CoV-2 strain carrying a mutation, D614G, appeared to be replacing the strain that first emerged out of Wuhan. Says LANL's Bette Korber, "The D614G strain is now the pandemic. You can hardly even sample the [original] Wuhan virus anymore."

Study: New Mutation Sped Up Spread of CoronavirusWebMD (11/13/20)
The new study backs up earlier research by a team of scientists led by Bette Korber, PhD, at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The team first noticed the rapid spread of the new strain and questioned whether the virus wasn’t evolving to become more easily passed between people.

How New Mexico Controlled the Spread of COVID-19 Scientific American (9/15/20)
Early in the spring, the state put together a team of 150 researchers and clinicians to advise its officials, and New Mexico has been “very proactive in implementing science-based decisions,” says Sara Del Valle, a mathematical and computational epidemiologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

COVID-19 presents unique challenges for tracking data KRQE TV (8/10/20)
Mathematical epidemiologists with Los Alamos National Laboratory say the fact that there are so many asymptomatic carriers of this virus, make for unique challenges. “That of course makes it challenging to track people who might be spreading it, and to understand how many total infections we have,” explained Carrie Manore, Mathematical Epidemiologist for LANL.

Strand and deliver — Scientists are learning more about the virus that causes COVID-19 by sequencing its genomesSanta Fe Reporter (7/7/20)
The diagnostic angle "is extremely important," LANL scientist Patrick Chain says. "The virus mutates over time; it's not very fast, but some of those mutations are what allows researchers to track its progress and advancement along a geographic map. We were evaluating the mutations to see whether or not they effect the particular regions of the virus that are being targeted" by the testing re-agents used in the diagnostic tests.

Did a mutation help the coronavirus spread? More evidence, but lingering questionsNew York Times (7/2/20)
The new report, posted by the journal Cell and led by investigators at Los Alamos National Laboratory, suggested that the variant did have such an advantage. Other researchers said the findings were not yet definitive.

A mutant coronavirus has emerged, even more contagious than the original, study says Los Angeles Times (5/5/20)
Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that has become dominant worldwide and appears to be more contagious than the versions that spread in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Where the Latest COVID-19 Models think We're Headed — and Why They Disagree —FiveThirtyEight (5/3/20)
The Los Alamos model is projecting between 73K and 141K deaths in the U.S. by May 23, with an average of 94K. It assumes that there will continue to be interventions such as stay-at-home orders, but it does not specifically assume what those interventions will be.  

Work of Los Alamos scientists suggests COVID-19 can turn really bad again —ZDNet (4/25/20)
A study by scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, posted this week on the medRxiv pre-print server, argues that interventions have helped to lower the incidence of the disease, and removing such measures arbitrarily could prompt a very rapid return of the disease. 

Behind the data: Breaking down the statistical models of COVID-19 —Atlanta Journal-Constitution (4/24/20)
The Los Alamos National Laboratory, a top-tier government research lab, has developed a statistical model that has, so far, proven accurate at forecasting cases and deaths over various time spans. In Georgia, the lab’s model has been particularly accurate.

How New Mexico, One of the Poorest States, Averted a Steep Death Toll —New York Times (4/24/20)
New Mexico is drawing from a team of national defense scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory — which was created in 1943 to design and build an atomic bomb — to assist with contagion forecasts.

LANL forecast suggests NM has hit peak alreadyAlbuquerque Journal (4/23/20)
A forecast released by Los Alamos National Laboratory suggests New Mexico has already hit its peak in new coronavirus cases – or is about to. 

LANL providing COVID-19 modeling for New Mexico KOB-TV (4/23/20)
Los Alamos National Lab is instrumental in creating COVID-19 modeling for the state. “Basically what we do is we learn the trends from cases and deaths, and we forecast forward based on some underlying assumptions based on how we know diseases spread,” said Carrie Manore.

Los Alamos National Lab COVID-19 model helping guide the country KRQE-TV (4/23/20)
While the country looks to experts and scientists to help guide people through the pandemic, epidemiologists from Los Alamos National Laboratory are helping in the battle against the coronavirus.

Novel Coronavirus Prompts Computer Sharing Physics (4/23/20)
“But simulating a complex molecule with molecular dynamics can take “vast quantities of time,” explains Irene Qualters, Associate Laboratory Director for Simulation and Computing at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico. That’s why many of the projects are incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to guide the calculations. “AI is being used to target a simulation for a particular aspect of the virus.”

What 5 Coronavirus Models Say the Next Month Will Look Like —New York Times (4/22/20)
Researchers at Los Alamos National Lab have released a model with state-level predictions that assume social distancing interventions will continue.

How New Mexico’s national labs joined the COVID-19 fight —Santa Fe New Mexican (4/21/20)
Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory are undertaking a wide array of initiatives aimed at helping the state and nation cope with the unprecedented health crisis. They include computer modeling to predict a surge, boosting key medical supplies, testing people for COVID-19 and even hunting for a vaccine.

LANL develops a model to predict the spread of COVID-19 —KRQE (4/21/20)
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed their own forecast for the spread of the coronavirus.

Virus forecast model from defense team in Los Alamos draws attention Associated Press (4/20/20)
A team of national defense scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory that studies contagions with award-winning accuracy has developed its own U.S. forecast for the spread of the coronavirus.

LANL researchers developing coronavirus vaccine design —KOAT News (4/15/20)
The coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world as researchers and scientists fight to create a vaccine. Bette Korber has been a researcher with Los Alamos National Labs for 30 years focusing on HIV research, but recently that focus has shifted.

New Study Shows Coronavirus is Twice as Infectious than Previously Thought —Science Times (4/13/20)
Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory looked at figures in Wuhan and discovered that the coronavirus passed from 1 person to another between an estimated 2.3 to 3.3 days. This was twice as quickly as previously feared. 

Coronavirus may be TWICE as infectious as thought —Daily Mail (4/12/20)
Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico who studied the early stages of the Wuhan outbreak found each carrier actually infected an average of 5.7 people.

Disease Outbreaks Happen All the Time, But... —Scientific American (4/11/20)
At Los Alamos National Laboratory, to increase the accuracy of real-time models, we’re using anonymized, publicly available social media posts to understand how diseases like the flu spread. 

Race for vaccine intensifies as coronavirus hits Asia with a second wave of outbreaks Los Angeles Times (4/9/20)
Los Alamos National Lab has been working in biological sciences since 1945 and is applying its earlier pioneering research on HIV and influenza to the new coronavirus, said, a biochemist program manager at the federal facility.

Virus May Spread Twice as Fast as Earlier Thought, Study Says Bloomberg News (4/8/20)
Each person infected early in the epidemic in Wuhan probably passed the virus to an average of 5.7 other people, according to a mathematical analysis from Los Alamos National Laboratory. That’s more than twice what the World Health Organization and other public health authorities reported in February.

Coronavirus might spread much quicker than health officials thought New York Post (4/8/20)
The research, from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, found that people infected during the initial outbreak in Wuhan  probably passed the virus to an average 5.7 others — more than double  the 2 or 2.5 other people estimated by health officials and the World  Health Organization.

Federal Research Is the Key to Solving the COVID-19 Crisis —Inside Higher Ed (4/7/20)
Researchers across the University of California and our associated health centers are now engaged in more than 300 research initiatives designed to combat COVID-19... A new public-private consortium that includes UC San Diego and the UC-affiliated Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories is using supercomputers to answer questions about the virus in hours or days, rather than weeks or months.

Inside the Global Race to Fight COVID-19 Using the World's Fastest Supercomputers —Scientific American Observations (4/6/20)
More than 25 U.S.-based supercomputers with more than 400 petaflops of computing power - are now available for free to scientists searching for a vaccine or treatment against the virus, through the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium.

Supercomputers join the global fight against COVID-19Channelwise (3/30/20)

IBM, in collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the US Department of Energy and others, is helping launch the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium.

Aid to New Mexico will exceed $1.25 billion from virus relief billAlbuquerque Journal (3/28/20)

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján said the state will get its share of the $100 million for national laboratories, which will provide resources for Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory to help with coronavirus research. Part of the funding will protect employment at the labs.

DOE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing ConsortiumHPC Wire (3/25/20)

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its scope and operation in a briefing led by Undersecretary of Energy Paul Dabbar and attended by HPC leaders from national labs.

DHS wound down pandemic models before coronavirus struckPolitico (3/24/20)

The Department of Homeland Security stopped updating its annual models of the havoc that pandemics would wreak on America's critical infrastructure in 2017, according to current and former DHS officials with direct knowledge of the matter. NISAC, the DHS office that oversaw the models, began as a partnership between the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories in 1999 but in 2003 was folded into DHS by the USA Patriot Act and in 2014 put under OCIA, which has listed analyzing "pandemic influenza" as a top priority.

Roles national labs in New Mexico have to help combat coronavirusKRQE (3/24/20)
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is grabbing national attention for New Mexico’s coronavirus response. She also mentioned getting help from the state’s two national labs. So what exactly is their role?

"The position that New Mexico is in is a bit different," said Gov. Lujan Grisham on MSNBC. "Is that we are a state that has two of the five national laboratories."

Supercomputers rallied to combat coronavirusNBC News (3/23/20)
The consortium includes a slate of 16 supercomputers housed at labs across the country including Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

IBM and Honeywell sign on with White House to help fight COVID-19USA Today (3/23/20)
IBM says it's working with Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Argonne National Lab, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, NASA and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Opinion: Why we need to lock everything downAustralian Financial Review (3/23/20)
Important studies at Imperial College and Oxford in the UK, and at the Santa Fe Institute, New England Complex Systems Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US all show that, in highly connected systems, viral pandemics can be contained, and then stamped out, if a massive effort is put into the initial infection zone.

Coronavirus: Experts, data say WNC is 'underwater' in having hospital beds to fight COVID-19Asheville Citizen Times (3/21/20)

A pre-print study of Chinese cases by Los Alamos National Laboratory sets the average hospital stay of COVID-19 patients at 11 days.

Mesa Biotech to Receive Funding from US Health and Human Services for Development of a 30-minute Molecular (PCR) Point-of-Care SARS-CoV-2 TestMonterey County Weekly (3/20/20)
Today, Mesa Biotech announced it has been awarded a $561K contract from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for development of its rapid molecular diagnostic test for detection of SARS-CoV-2 for 'near patient' testing. Mesa Biotech's molecular technology was developed at Los Alamos National Lab.

NNSA forms Coronavirus 2019 watch group, considering scaling back eventsExchange Monitor (3/11/20)
Meanwhile, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is pitching in on the effort to understand how the disease — which is not influenza — may spread. A lab spokesperson said Los Alamos had four funded COVID-19 research projects underway, as of Thursday.

Scientists in New Mexico studying link between coronavirus and animals —KOAT (3/10/20)
Scientists in New Mexico are studying the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases, trying to help stop a pandemic. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are looking into the cause and how to stop it.

They say there is a link between people and animals and believe that the more people come in contact with animals, the more diseases like the coronavirus will spread.

Mutations can reveal how the coronavirus moves—but they’re easy to overinterpret Science (3/9/20)
It was a case study in the power and pitfalls of real-time analysis of viral genomes. "This is an incredibly important disease. We need to understand how it is moving," says Bette Korber, a biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who is also studying the genome of SARS-CoV-2. "With very limited evolution during the outbreak, [these researchers] are doing what they can and they are making suggestions, which I think at this point should be taken as suggestions."

Mesa Biotech Developing Molecular Point-Of-Care (PCR) Diagnostic Test For Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Laboratory Network (3/6/20)
"With a proven platform and a China clinical trial already underway for influenza, we are uniquely positioned to rapidly bring accurate and easily deployable coronavirus testing closer to the patient and away from the central lab," said Hong Cai, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mesa Biotech, Inc. "Our technology development started at Los Alamos National Lab supported by NIH grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Western Regional Centers for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease program.

How Computer Modeling Of COVID-19's Spread Could Help Fight The Virus —NPR (3/5/20)
Scientists who use math and computers to simulate the course of epidemics are taking on the new coronavirus to try to predict how this global outbreak might evolve and how best to tackle it. Sara Del Valle, a mathematical and computational epidemiologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says she'd like to see a global center set up to constantly collect information about circulating infectious illnesses.

Much like how the National Weather Service provides forecasts to help people prepare for their local weather, she says, such a center could tell people about their local risk of infectious diseases.

To Defeat Coronavirus, Win the Containment Battle Bloomberg (2/25/20)
The coronavirus epidemic keeps defying predictions. New research suggests that the virus is also far more contagious than initially believed. Early estimates of the basic reproductive number r0 — a key epidemiological figure that reflects the number of new cases, on average, resulting from a single infection in a fully susceptible population — looked to be in the range of 2 to 3.

The largest estimate of r0 so far, in the range of 4.7 to 6.6, comes from a new study by a modeling group at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Going Viral: Los Alamos National Lab scientists discuss coronavirus modeling, data and prevention —Santa Fe Reporter (2/25/20)
As governments grapple with responses to the new coronavirus, scientists continue modeling its outbreak and determining its cause. Two such scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory spoke with me recently about their work.

Sara Del Valle, the deputy group leader for LANL's Information Systems and Modeling Group, develops mathematical and computational models for infectious diseases. She has developed epidemiological models for smallpox, anthrax, HIV, Ebola, influenza, among others. She has also worked on investigating the role of internet data streams on monitoring emergent behavior during outbreaks and forecasting infectious diseases. LANL Deputy Group Leader for Biosecurity & Public Health Jeanne Fair focuses on epidemiology and animal disease ecology, and was the principle investigator for a 24-year research project on the impacts of environmental stress on avian populations and infectious diseases.

Disease modeller says COVID-19 risk to NZ is very low —Radio New Zealand (2/25/20)
Sara Del Valle is an applied mathematician and disease modeller at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Like a weather forecaster, she uses mathematical equations to identify patterns in the hope of being able to predict trends that could be a threat to global security. Del Valle and other disease modellers have gazed into their computers to see the future of COVID-19 and the news is not bad for New Zealand.

The Next Coronavirus Nightmare Is Closer Than You Think Daily Beast (2/20/20)
Global warming can accelerate displacement by thawing, burning, flooding, or drying out habitats in response to hotter temperatures and stronger storms. "As habitats change and people move and wildlife moves, they’re going to be coming into contact more with each other," said Jeanne Fair, a biosecurity and public health expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Increasingly close contact, in turn, significantly raises the risk that an animal disease will spill over into humans.

Disease modelers gaze into their computers to see the future of COVID-19, and it isn’t good —STAT (2/15/20)
Like weather forecasters, researchers who use mathematical equations to project how bad a disease outbreak might become are used to uncertainties and incomplete data, and COVID-19, the disease caused by the new-to-humans coronavirus that began circulating in Wuhan, China, late last year, has those everywhere you look.

"Our overarching goal is to minimize the spread and burden of infectious disease," said Sara Del Valle, an applied mathematician and disease modeler at Los Alamos National Laboratory. By calculating the effects of countermeasures such as social isolation, travel bans, vaccination, and using face masks, modelers can "understand what’s going on and inform policymakers," she said.