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Education Part II : Leaps in scientific understanding !

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10 Jan 2021 12:12 - 10 Jan 2021 12:13 #388236 by ketchim
In January 2020, two scientists published the entire genetic code of a coronavirus

that was soon to wreak havoc around the world.

It marked the start of a year of intense and rapid scientific endeavour

to work out how we might fight the virus.
Last edit: 10 Jan 2021 12:13 by ketchim.

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10 Jan 2021 12:14 #388237 by ketchim
Prof Zhang and Prof Holmes examine a rat in a trap during an infectious disease research trip to China in 2013

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10 Jan 2021 12:15 - 10 Jan 2021 12:15 #388238 by ketchim
Eddie Holmes had the genetic blueprint for the coronavirus in his possession

for exactly 52 minutes before he put it online.

Prof Holmes is based at the University of Sydney, where he works on the emergence of infectious disease -

an area of research that was suddenly thrust into the spotlight at the beginning of 2020.

He has worked closely, for several years, with Prof Yong-Zhen Zhang

who was at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control in Beijing.

Prof Zhang sequenced the genome of the virus that closed down the world.
Last edit: 10 Jan 2021 12:15 by ketchim.

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10 Jan 2021 12:16 #388239 by ketchim
He collected samples taken from some of the first patients in Wuhan Central Hospital

where a cluster of mysterious pneumonia cases had emerged.

Many of those patients had a link to a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan.

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10 Jan 2021 12:17 - 10 Jan 2021 12:18 #388240 by ketchim
When he examined the code, Prof Zhang immediately saw that this was a coronavirus.

It looked very similar to Sars -

the respiratory disease that caused a deadly outbreak in Asia in 2002.

"That was on 5 January," recalls Prof Holmes.

"And we just thought, oh no. It's Sars back again."
Last edit: 10 Jan 2021 12:18 by ketchim.

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10 Jan 2021 12:19 #388241 by ketchim
But this code - this virus - was different. It was new.

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10 Jan 2021 12:22 - 10 Jan 2021 12:27 #388242 by ketchim
On 11 January Prof Holmes phoned his colleague in China

and asked his permission to publish the sequence.

"Zhang was on a plane, strapped into his seat," Prof Holmes recalled. "He told me he needed to think about it

- there was some pressure not to release too much information about the outbreak.

"He called me back about a minute later and said, 'OK, let's do it.'"


A researcher in Prof Zhang's lab emailed the genetic code to Eddie Holmes

"It was about 01:00 there," Prof Holmes recalls.
Last edit: 10 Jan 2021 12:27 by ketchim.

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10 Jan 2021 12:27 #388243 by ketchim
In the ensuing 52 minutes, the scientists together wrote a brief post explaining that they were

"releasing a coronavirus genome from a case of a respiratory disease from the Wuhan outbreak"

and uploaded the code.

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10 Jan 2021 12:28 #388244 by ketchim

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10 Jan 2021 12:30 - 10 Jan 2021 12:31 #388245 by ketchim
That same weekend, scientists at a US pharmaceutical company called Moderna,

which had never previously brought a product to market, downloaded the genome

and started work on their experimental vaccine.

Scientists at Pfizer did the same (including VS Roopchand, hailing from Guyana) ;)
Last edit: 10 Jan 2021 12:31 by ketchim.

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