Q&A: How physics could explain why people respond differently to coronavirus infection

The immune system is constantly hedging its bets to rearrange itself to protect from future infection, says physicist Aleksandra Walczak. Image credit - Ketut Subiyanto/pexels.com

Some people’s immune systems contain pre-existing protection against coronavirus, indicating that they have encountered a similar infection to Covid-19 before, according to Dr Aleksandra Walczak, a physicist at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. Her team uses statistical physics to model the human immune system and try and predict how it will behave. She is currently … Read more

By recreating phobias and panic attacks, neuroscientists aim to improve anxiety therapies

Researchers are using virtual reality to test participants’ reactions to threats such as dogs or falling rocks to understand more about the brain mechanisms linked to anxiety. Image credit - needpix.com, public domain

by Fintan Burke Tracking the brain’s reaction to virtual-reality-simulated threats such as falling rocks and an under-researched fear reduction strategy may provide better ways of treating anxiety disorders and preventing relapses. Hippocrates described them as ‘masses of terrors,’ while French physicians in the 18th century labelled them as ‘vapours’ and ‘melancholia.’ Nowadays we know that panic … Read more

Q&A: When and how does anxiety become a problem?

We do not really know why some people develop long-term anxiety disorders while others bounce back from adverse situations, says Prof. Baldwin. Image credit - Pexels/Pixabay

Short-term anxiety is a normal response to stress, but more needs to be done to understand and treat longer-term anxiety disorders, which affect the lives of millions of people across Europe and impose a significant economic burden on society, according to Professor David Baldwin, head of the mental health group at the University of Southampton, … Read more

Q&A: Coronavirus has shown the need for a global health system – but revealed its weaknesses too

Global agencies need to see coronavirus not just as a health crisis, but as a development and economic one, too, says Professor Colin McInnes of Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. Image credit - Unsplash/ Thomas de LUZE

We are seeing a failure of global health governance in response to Covid-19 because there are too many agencies with different interests, according Professor Colin McInnes, pro-vice chancellor at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK, who says global institutions such as the World Health Organization and World Bank should stand together in crises. He ran a … Read more

‘The aim is to find the monoclonal’: the hunt for the antibody to treat Covid-19

If researchers could find the most effective antibody against coronavirus, it could act as both a cure and temporary vaccine. Image credit - NIH Image Gallery, Public Domain Mark 1.0

by Ian Le Guillou Transfusing antibodies from Covid-19 survivors into seriously ill patients could provide a quick treatment win, but a more selective approach may both treat and prevent the disease. A single, highly-effective antibody that is mass-produced like a drug could combine the benefits of antivirals and a vaccine for at-risk individuals such as health … Read more