Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

April 1, 2020

Background: A new strain of coronavirus causing pneumonia-like symptoms was recently identified in Wuhan, China, marking the beginning of the spread of the virus across the globe. Coronaviruses (CoV), so named for their “crown-like” appearance, are a large family of viruses that spread from animals to humans and include diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Researchers have now confirmed that the virus can spread via human-to-human transmission, though the original source of the virus has not been identified. Unlike other coronaviruses, COVID-19 has a much larger global spread and has infected more individuals than SARS and MERS combined.

1. Latest Updates
2. Latest ASM Updates
3. COVID-19 Toolkit
4. Interview with Dr. Stanley Perlman
5. ASM Resources
6. Other Resources
7. Coronavirus Experts

Latest Updates: 

  • Tuesday, March 24: The FDA allows treatment of life-threatening COVID-19 cases with convalescent plasma.
  • Tuesday, March 17: ASM issued a statement commending the FDA for their new guidance to increase COVID-19 testing capacity
  • Monday, March 16: The CDC recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
  • Wednesday, March 11: The World Health Organization declares the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, acknowledging that the virus will likely spread to all countries on the globe.
  • Saturday, Feb. 29: The FDA took steps to expand novel coronavirus testing to hospital clinical microbiology laboratories.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 26: NIH scientists began a randomized controlled trial of the antiviral drug remdesivir that had been developed for Ebola, on a patient infected with SARS-CoV-2. This is the first clinical trial in the U.S. for an experimental treatment for COVID-19.
  • Friday, Jan. 24: The CDC had confirmed 2 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. – in Snohomish County, WA and Chicago – in individuals who have visited Wuhan. The CDC has identified 63 patients under investigation, 11 of whom have tested negative for the virus. The CDC has reported no additional cases after screening over 2,000 people from 200 flights in 5 airports. Emerging data suggests the virus incubates for approximately 2 weeks.
  • Thursday, Jan. 30, WHO Declared Coronavirus A Global Health Emergency. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now screening passengers arriving from Wuhan on entry at multiple international airports.


This situation is ongoing and evolving, and we will continue to update as information becomes available.

Robin Patel, M.D., President of ASM, Chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology and Director of the Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19.


Latest ASM Updates:
 

ASM hosted a remote international summit on COVID-19 on Monday, March 23, 2020 featuring a distinguished group of microbiologists - expert virologists, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists and clinical laboratory scientists. 

ASM is providing free access to COVID-19 articles in ASM’s 16 scholarly journals to support research efforts and communications about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). ASM has also committed to making all of its COVID19 and coronavirus related publications, and the available data supporting them, immediately accessible in PubMed Central (PMC) and other public repositories.

ASM Journals are also expediting review for submitted papers related to coronavirus, ensuring that the new research is quickly made available to the scientific community. 

ASM's latest press releases include: 


ASM Leadership Speaks to the Media about COVID-19:

TIME MagazineResponding to Coronavirus Testing Problems, U.S. Government Expands Number of Labs That Can Run Tests​
The Washington Post: New FDA Policy will Expand Coronavirus Testing Featuring Dr. Melissa Miller, Chair of ASM's Clinical and Public Health Microbiology Committee
NPR: Coronavirus Test Kits Spread Through U.S. — And With Them, An Uptick In Cases
The Wall Street Journal, Opinion: How a Boy’s Blood Stopped an Outbreak By Arturo Casadevall, Governors Chair of ASM's American Academy of Microbiology

 

To speak with an expert on coronavirus, please email communications@asmusa.org.

COVID-19 Toolkit

Speaking about coronavirus in your community? Need to explain COVID-19 to the public? Download our one-pager that includes key facts about how COVID-19 is spread and how people can protect themselves.

What is COVID-19?

What is COVID-19? (slides)



What to Know about the New Coronavirus

Stanley Perlman, M.D., Ph.D., an American Academy of Microbiology fellow, an ASM member and professor at the University of Iowa, talks about the outbreak of a novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
 


Feb. 28:

What is the significance of community transmission, and does this mean we should be more vigilant?

Absolutely, we need to be vigilant. Community transmission means that it readily spreads from person-to-person even outside of healthcare settings.”
 
Is this truly a public health emergency, especially compared with other outbreaks in the past?​ 
As the number of cases continue to increase, public health authorities will need to enact measures to decrease spread. We have not had an infection in the past in which the population was highly susceptible and mortality was 2-3%.”
 
What is the status on a treatment and/or vaccine?
“Specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 treatments and vaccines are not available and will not be for at least a few months.”
 

Feb. 4:

Is there any indication that those who have had another coronavirus (SARS, MERS or even the cold-causing CoVs) would have natural immunity to COVID-19
?

"No, those who have had SARS infection might have some protection but this is completely unknown."

What does the higher rate of cases and lower number of reported deaths indicate about this disease versus other coronaviruses?

"It shows that the virus is more easily transmissible and fortunately is much less likely to cause severe disease. This probably occurs because so many COVID-19 cases involve the upper airways and less so the lungs."


Jan. 28:

What is a coronavirus? How does it compare to other types of viruses (like the common cold or flu)?

 
“Cold and flu and coronaviruses are all RNA viruses (rather than DNA). Coronaviruses contain the largest genomic RNA in terms of any virus. We don’t know yet if/how this novel virus is different from other human pathogenic coronaviruses, like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
 
In the past, coronaviruses were studied primarily in domestic and companion animals, until the first outbreak (SARS) in 2003. While we don’t know if this novel virus is different from SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, it does seem to behave more like SARS-CoV. All 3 cause severe human respiratory disease and have higher rates of mortality than the influenza or other respiratory viruses.”

Why is human-to-human transmission significant?
 
“A lot of diseases don’t reach a broader audience or get as much attention because many viruses go from animals to people but are not transmitted to other humans (e.g. EEE). If a virus can spread from human to human, then to be infected, a person doesn’t need to be around the zoonotic source that caused the initial infection. Efficient human-to-human spread is a major concern because no one is immune to this new coronavirus."
 

Do we know the source of the outbreak?
 
“This virus is 95% the same as a virus already identified in bats. SARS-CoV was a bat virus that likely had an intermediate host and MERS-CoV crosses from camels to infect humans. It’s likely this new coronavirus originated in bats. 
 
It is important to know an outbreak source because then one can stop transmission to humans. Elimination of exposure to bats, for example, would minimize new bat-to-human transmission.”
 
What is the importance of early testing for COVID-19​ infection?
 
“The earlier we test for coronavirus infection, the faster someone can be isolated and given the appropriate therapy. Proper precautions will prevent transmission to others.” 
 
What can we learn from the genetic sequence of the virus?
 
“By studying the genetic sequence of the virus, we can determine what proteins it uses, how it replicates and what makes the virus unique. This information will allow us to design antiviral solutions and develop animal models. It is important to follow its epidemiology; for instance: does the virus change over time or become more virulent or efficient? We need people on the ground so they can collect specimens and we can get useful clinical samples.”
 
What is the appropriate level of caution we should use?
 
“This is a hard question to address. We are seeing more cases at an earlier time in the epidemic than was true with SARS and MERS. More casual persons are being affected, as opposed to health care workers or those in close contact with infected patients. One has to be cautious and aware of their surroundings: wash your hands and stay home if you feel ill.”



ASM Resources:

Special session on coronaviruses at ASM Biothreats meeting:
Coronavirus Infections: More than Just the Common Cold
Presented by Dr. Anthony Fauci


Airport Screening for COVID-19 Begins January 17

ASM is providing free access to research articles related to COVID-19

Press releases covering coronaviruses

Articles covering coronaviruses

Press play to listen to an update on the coronavirus causing respiratory disease in China.
Additional podcasts covering coronaviruses


Other Resources:

CDC COVID-19 Updates

CDC Priorities for Testing Patients with Suspected Coronavirus Infection

CDC's Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

CDC's Guidance for Retirement Communities and Independent Living

CDC's Interim Guidance on Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities

CDC's Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Checklist: Older Persons

CDC's Guidance on the Extended Use or Reuse of N95 Masks

CMS's CLIA Guidance for Laboratories During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Disinfecting Your Facility if Someone is Sick

Resources for Large Community Events & Mass Gatherings 

CDC's SOP for Preparation of Viral Transport Medium

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations 

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers 

WHO COVID-19 Updates

From NPR: MAP: Confirmed Cases Of Wuhan Coronavirus. Cases of Wuhan coronavirus in China have increased to 830 and deaths to 25. Most of the new cases are relatives or health care workers who have come into close contact with a sick person.

CDC’s Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program plays a pivotal role when outbreaks occur, especially when the a novel virus emerges. Next generation sequencing allows for more precise identification of these pathogens, and AMD is being deployed in the current work on the coronavirus.



Coronavirus Experts:

Stanley Perlman,
MD, Ph.D.
stanley-perlman@uiowa.edu
Professor
Depts of Microbiology and Immunology, and Pediatrics
University of Iowa

Malik Peiris, 
MBBS, FRCPath, D Phil (Oxon), FHKAM (Path), FRCP, FRS
malik@hku.hk
Tam Wah-Ching Professorship in Medical Science
Division of Public Health Laboratory Sciences
Hong Kong University


Author: ASM Communications

ASM Communications
ASM Communications staff.