Microbiology Insider

Dear Microbiology Insider,

Welcome to the first edition of the Microbiology Insider, a special newsletter sent to subscribers who have expressed interest in topics related to microbiology. As an Insider, you'll receive this newsletter every few months.

Not surprisingly, the novel coronavirus takes center stage in this first edition. Many states are under lockdown, and a relief bill from Congress has been making its way to the surface amid a lot of partisan debate.

Meanwhile, the White House coronavirus task force briefings have come to the forefront, as once-regular events by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have faded into the distance. Testing has been and continues to be a focal point in the criticism of the U.S. government's response to the pandemic.

Our feature article for this Insider provides an update on where we are with efforts to ramp up molecular testing for the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2. Justin Saeks, an analyst at sister company Kalorama Information, reviews the stumbling blocks that led to a big backlog of testing in the system. This contributed to an absence of information about who was infected in the early days of what would come to be acknowledged as a pandemic. Molecular testing in the U.S. is now ramping up, with many vendors marketing commercial coronavirus test kits.

In this newsletter, we're providing a snapshot of news items about the coronavirus that we have published recently. Regulatory updates include emergency use authorizations granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for coronavirus diagnostics, such as point-of-care tests from Mesa Biotech and Cepheid.

Laboratory-developed tests and commercial assays can be conducted without an emergency use authorization. The FDA has been hosting virtual town halls to answer technical questions about how these processes work -- the most recent one was held on March 25, and five more are scheduled for April. The agency has also been warning consumers about the sale of fake and unauthorized home test kits for the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 and has pledged to take action to protect the public.

We have also featured many clinical updates related to the novel coronavirus in recent weeks, including a story about its natural origins by our Science Advisory Board colleague Samantha Black, PhD, and a new peer-reviewed article on data from China about how the infection affects pregnant women.

Be sure to stay in touch with the Microbiology Community on a daily basis for the latest in research and news from around the world. We would also love to hear your ideas about stories we should be covering related to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as generally in the field of microbiology. And let us know if you are open to being interviewed or if you are interested in submitting an expert comment piece. Our doors are always open.

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