What Does It Mean to Say a New Drug ‘Works’?

In the midst of a global crisis, scientists are trying to solve an epistemologically intractable question. Defining whether a drug “works” has never been easy, a task vexed by methodological uncertainty, commercial pressures, statistical errors, or sometimes straight-out bad practices. Facing a new disease, researchers have to rethink what success even means. Is it lower mortality? Less disability upon recovery? Faster recovery? The answers are cryptic because the questions are just educated guesses.

Does Social Distancing Matter

This paper develops and implements a method to monetize the impact of moderate social distancing on deaths from COVID-19. It measures the number of deaths saved with the united states governments value of statistical life and finds that mortality benefits of social distancing is 18 trillion dollars

Genes May Leave Some People More Vulnerable to Severe Covid-19

Variations at two spots in the human genome are associated with an increased risk of respiratory failure in patients with Covid-19, the researchers found. One of these spots includes the gene that determines blood types. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

Predictive power of mathematical modelling and the risk of a second wave

Neuroscientist Karl Friston, of University College London, builds mathematical models of human brain function. Lately, he’s been applying his modelling to Covid-19. He says, our approach, which borrows from physics and in particular the work of Richard Feynman, goes under the bonnet. It attempts to capture the mathematical structure of the phenomenon – in this case, the pandemic – and to understand the causes of what is observed.

COVID-19 fact check: Caution urged on study about virus, smoking

More information is needed after a French study suggested nicotine might play a role in preventing some illness from the coronavirus. Nicotine is not thought to attack sars-cov-2 directly. It may, however,
play an indirect role that involves a cell-membrane protein called ace2,
to which the virus attaches itself in order to gain access to a cell.
Some researchers suspect that nicotine binds to ace2 as well, and that
this makes it harder for the virus to do so alongside it.