April 2020 | View Online
These are unprecedented times with the challenges related to COVID-19 multiplying across the globe, but I have never been so proud to be part of an institution with such expertise, creativity and innovation that can contribute to solutions.

Researchers and healthcare practitioners are the true heroes of today and we are seeing many inspiring examples emerge across our campus where teams are stepping forward and leaning into the challenge to be part of the solution.

I encourage you to attend a special virtual COVID-19 public awareness symposium on April 23 organized by Distinguished Professor Walter Leal. The event features experts from UC Davis in immunology, infectious diseases, pathology and emergency medicine. You can register here .

Prasant Mohapatra
Vice Chancellor for Research
Preliminary results of clinical study using remdesivir show improvement for patents hospitalized with severe COVID-19
Preliminary results of the first clinical trial of the antiviral therapy remdesivir conducted at UC Davis Health and other hospitals found that nearly two thirds of severely ill patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who received remdesivir on a compassionate-use basis improved, with no new concerns about safety. 

The link between virus spillover, wildlife extinction and the environment
As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, a common question is, can infectious diseases be connected to environmental change? Yes, indicates a study recently published by the UC Davis’ One Health Institute. The study provides new evidence for assessing spillover risk in animal species and highlights how the processes that create wildlife population declines also enable the transmission of animal viruses to humans.

New web app to monitor and track COVID-19 cases
Researchers at UC Davis have developed a new web application that allows users to track COVID-19 cases and testing across the globe. The app offers a simple, intuitive way for users to track COVID-19 data at the country, state and county level. The website app features interactive maps and graphs. It also includes a web address that tracks the user’s current view so it can be bookmarked and shared with others. 

Genome variation gives insight into coronavirus spread
Researchers are analyzing the genomes of 150 SARS-CoV-2 strains in combination with epidemiology and transmission information to classify outbreak potential. Although it has just 15 genes, SARS-CoV-2 is mutating all the time as it spreads around the world. Most of these changes make very little difference but sometimes the virus becomes more or less transmissible.

What the blood tests of a COVID-19 patient can tell us
In a case study, researchers at UC Davis Health document leukoerythroblastic reactions in the blood work of the patient who is the first known case of community-acquired COVID-19 in the U.S. The result is more typically seen in disorders associated with bone marrow diseases.

PREDICT program to provide emergency support for detection in Africa, Asia and the Middle East
The UC Davis led PREDICT program, a USAID-sponsored global pathogen surveillance project, is providing technical expertise to support detection of SARS CoV-2 cases in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to inform the public health response. The program will also investigate the animal source or sources of SARS CoV-2 using data and samples collected over the past ten years in Asia and Southeast Asia.

Economic effects of coronavirus might last decades
The coronavirus pandemic could harm the economy for decades if past patterns are a guide, according to researchers drawing on data going back to the fourteenth century. Looking at 12 major pandemics as well as armed conflicts, economists Oscar Jorda, Sanjay Singh and Alan Taylor at UC Davis concluded that they depress real rates or return, lead to small increases in real wages, and weigh on investment.

UC Davis launches two clinical studies to treat COVID-19
UC Davis Health has two clinical trials underway for hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The studies are evaluating the safety and effectiveness of two drugs — the investigational antiviral remdesivir, and sarilumab, a drug that blocks the body’s acute inflammatory response.

'Sick posts' on social media help early tracking of COVID-19
A recent study found that people’s posts about symptoms and diagnosis of the disease can predict daily case counts up to seven days ahead of official statistics. The researchers analyzed more than 12 million COVID-19 relates posts on China’s popular microblog Weibo. The findings hold broad public health implications, with social media surveillance offering a fast, low-cost way to inform disease containment and mitigation efforts .

Unique resources and collaborative model give UC Davis a head start for tests, vaccines and treatments
UC Davis researchers were able to quickly launch their coronavirus research program because of the existing strong relationships between the School of Medicine, the Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases and the California National Primate Research Center, where researchers study HIV/AIDS, Zika and other infectious diseases. The team began by isolating, characterizing and culturing coronavirus from a patient treated at UC Davis, the first community-acquired case in the U.S., with the goal of making diagnostic tests in-house.

UC Davis engineers arm healthcare workers
Anticipating a scarcity of medical devices and a lack of treatment options for COVID-19, UC Davis College of Engineering researchers are investigating innovative technology to manufacture masks, ventilators and other critical equipment.

What we learned from the detection of the first-known community-acquired case
When UC Davis announced the first case of community transmission of COVID-19 in the U.S. on Feb. 26, it solved a medical mystery. UC Davis Health physicians and medical staff who treated the severely ill patient provide a detailed case study of her condition and the medical steps and challenges they experienced before arriving at a diagnosis and treatment.

UC Davis Health speeds up COVID-19 testing
UC Davis Health quickly developed a three-pronged approach with the goal to be able to perform more than 1,000 COVID-19 tests per day. One critical instrument acquired in December, not initially intended for COVID-19, was quickly re-purposed and became the first to operate in the area.

How building design can influence disease transmission
Scientists and engineers are analyzing how building layout, ventilation and lighting can contribute to the transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Among the simplest suggestions for healthier buildings: opening windows to improve air circulation and opening blinds to admit natural daylight.

Crashes and traffic are down by half, saving state $40 million per day during shelter-in-place
Traffic accidents and crash-related injuries and deaths were reduced by half during the first three weeks of California’s shelter-in-place order, which began March 20. The reductions save the state an estimated $40 million per day — about $1 billion over the time period — according to an updated special report released from the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis.

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Prasant Mohapatra | Office of Research | pmohapatra@ucdavis.edu