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US scientists refute Wuhan as origin of novel coronavirus

“Our analyses, and others too, point to an earlier origin than that,” Garry said, “There were definitely cases there, but that wasn’t the origin of the virus.”

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Wuhan of Hubei seafood Market

The novel coronavirus did not originate from a seafood market in central China’s Wuhan City, according to American health experts.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the origin of the novel coronavirus has been widely discussed online, and conspiracy theories around it have also emerged endlessly.

Previous scientific studies have already suggested that virus which causes COVID-19 originated through natural processes.

In a recent interview with ABC news, Dr. Robert Garry, a professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine, once again pointed out that it’s a misconception to believe the virus originated at a seafood market in Wuhan, China.

“Our analyses, and others too, point to an earlier origin than that,” Garry said, “There were definitely cases there, but that wasn’t the origin of the virus.”

According to Garry, the pandemic may be triggered by the mutation in surface proteins of the virus. But it’s also possible that a less severe version of the illness was circulating through the population for years, perhaps even decades, before escalating to this point.

“This is a good explanation as to why this virus is so transmittable and has caused this pandemic,” he said.

Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. In a study published on Nature Medicine, a group of scientists, including Dr. Robert Garry, analyzed two specific features of spike proteins of the virus, which are responsible for griping and entering into the host cells.

The results show that the virus’ spike protein is optimized for binding to a molecular on the outside of human cells, so efficient that scientists concluded it was the result of natural selection and not a purposefully manipulated virus.

Besides, if someone were trying to make a new virus, they have to engineer it from the backbone — molecular structure of a virus which is known to cause diseases in human, scientists said.

But what they found is that the novel coronavirus backbone is not derived from any previously used virus backbone. The most closely resembled backbones were discovered in bats and pangolins.

These two features of the virus, the mutations in the RBD portion of the spike protein and its distinct backbone, rules out laboratory manipulation as a potential origin for this novel coronavirus , according to Kristian Andersen, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and corresponding author of the paper.

What is exactly the natural origin blamed for COVID-19 has yet been worked out by global scientists. But they do propose two possible scenarios that can plausibly explain the origin of the virus, that is natural selection in an animal host before zoonotic transfer, and natural selection in humans following zoonotic transfer.

According to Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the US National Institutes of Health, in the first scenario, as the new coronavirus evolved in its natural hosts, possibly bats or pangolins, its spike proteins mutated to bind to molecules similar in structure to the human protein, thereby enabling it to infect human cells. Both the SARS and MERS outbreak followed this way.

The second scenario is that the novel coronavirus crossed from animals into humans before it became capable of causing human disease.

Then, as a result of natural evolution, the virus eventually gained the ability to spread human-to-human and cause diseases.

(Source: Reuters)

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ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan sealed after 22 test COVID-19 positive

The famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna has been closed to devotees since the lockdown was imposed in March.

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ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan

VRINDAVAN : After 22 persons associated with the temple were found infected with coronavirus, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has decided to seal the temple in Vrindavan and restrict movement. The announcement comes a day ahead of the Janmashtami festival which will be celebrated in the country on August 12.

“Earlier, one person had tested positive, so more testing was conducted and now 22 people tested positive. After that, contact tracing was conducted and sampling is being done; we will isolate those who test positive. Movement of people have been restricted and the temple has been sealed,” an ISKCON official said. He said the 22 people includes priests at the temple.

In the temple town of Vrindavan, authorities of Banke Bihari temple have also decided to keep the shrine closed till September 30. The decision was taken due to repair work on the temple premises, said the authority in a notice.

It also stated that the repair work will be taken up by engineers. Earlier, the temple was closed in the view of COVID-19.

The famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna has been closed to devotees since the lockdown was imposed in March.

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India records 53K new Covid-19 cases, tally crosses 22.68L

The US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 50,89,416 and 1,63,425, respectively, according to the CSSE.

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COVID-19 pandemic

New Delhi, Aug 11 : India, the third country worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, recorded a spike of 53,601 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing the total tally to 22,68,675. The country tested a record over 871 deaths in a single day.

The number of recoveries mounted to almost 16 lakh, more than twice the active cases. Out of the total cases, 6,39,929 are active cases while 15,83,489 have recovered from the disease and 45,257 people have lost their lives in the fight against the deadly virus.

Notably, India recorded the highest number of recoveries in a single day at 47,746. The recovery rate has gone up to 69.79 per cent.

On Monday, the government tested 6,98,290 samples. A total of 2,52,81,848 samples have been tested so far.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with a total of 5,15,332 cases and 17,757 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu with 2,96,901 cases and 4,927 deaths. The southern state is followed by Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.

Globally, the overall number Covid-19 cases has surpassed the 20 million mark, while the deaths have increased to over 7.34 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 2,00,11,186 and the fatalities rose to 7,34,664, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 50,89,416 and 1,63,425, respectively, according to the CSSE.

Brazil came in the second place with 30,57,470 infections and 1,01,752 deaths.

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Google launches new global Covid-19 map for journalists

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San Francisco: Google in collaboration with Stanford University has launched a global Covid-19 map that makes it possible for journalists to embed up-to-date visualisations of the pandemic on their sites for readers.

Unlike other coronavirus case maps, the ‘Covid-19 Global Case Mapper’ allows local reporters to embed a map of their area or even a national case map.

The map shows cases in relation to population.

“It’s coloured by numbers of cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days and shows you the severity of outbreak by the number of people in each location, making it easier to compare where you live to the world as a whole,” said Simon Rogers, Data Editor, Google News Lab.

Earlier this year, the team launched a US version of the map.

The new version expands that embeddable view across the globe through data for 176 countries in addition to the US, plus additional state and regional data for 18 countries.

The team has used Google Translate so the experience can be viewed in more than 80 languages.

The data is from the New York Times’ open Covid-19 county dataset and the Covid-19 Data Repository by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University and is updated daily.

Stanford University’s Big Local News and Pitch Interactive has launched the new global map with support from the Google News Initiative (GNI).

“More in-depth, country-level data will be added over time as the map is developed further and as journalists around the world use it to explain how the pandemic has spread,” Rogers said in a statement on Monday.

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has surpassed the 20 million mark, while the deaths have increased to over 734,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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