A newly identified coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is spreading across the globe. Here’s what you need to know about the virus and the disease it causes, called COVID-19.
Washington state reports three more deaths from coronavirus.
Washington state reported three more deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday (March 3), according to The Washington Post. All three deaths were in King County.
One of these deaths occurred last week, on Feb. 26, but doctors only recently discovered that samples from the patient tested positive for the virus, according to The New York Times. The patient was being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and was a resident of the long-term care facility Life Care Center of Kirkland, where officials suspect an outbreak of coronavirus is occuring. So far, five deaths have been linked to the facility, according to The Seattle Times.
Diagnostic tests in the U.S.
After botching its initial attempt at a COVID-19 diagnostic test, and taking weeks to develop a replacement, the U.S. government has enlisted the help of private companies and academic institutions to expand the nation’s testing capacity, The New York Times reported. According to “the estimates we’re getting from industry right now, by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed,” FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a press briefing on Monday (Mar. 2).
Last week, the FDA enabled state and local laboratories to develop and validate their own diagnostic tests and conduct initial testing on their own, rather than sending samples to the CDC’s laboratory in Atlanta, according to the Times.
The CDC tests use a PCR-based protocol, meaning they pinpoint bits of viral DNA in swabbed samples from a patient’s nose and throat, according to The Scientist. Many of the other tests in development follow the same approach, but some labs aim to use the gene-editing technique CRISPR to highlight the target genes with fluorescent tags, The Scientist reported. Other groups are working to isolate antibodies from infected people in order to develop blood tests for the virus.