A set of links related to COVID 19.
Update: Starting May 2020, we have stopped updating this page.
COVID-19 has emerged as a major challenge to humanity. This is a new disease and there is little that is known about it. The rapid spread and the unprecedented measures taken to curb this have created confusion, with the viral spread of unscientific /unsubstantiated / speculative ideas through social media channels.
In response, Confluence is setting up a page (that will be updated regularly) with information from credible sources. We also aim to avoid highly speculative ideas. Our objective here is to provide readers with curated information that will help guide their individual responses. As the scientific community works furiously to understand this new pathogen, new information and insights are being continuously generated, and the response to this disease is also continuously evolving. Therefore, the information that we post will be continuously updated to reflect the current understanding.
Information provided here is general and not meant as a substitute for doctor’s advice in case of specific clinical condition of individuals.
We will try to put links to only those resources that are freely available. In case you find a resource to be behind a paywall, or the link is broken, please leave a comment below, we shall update.
A. UPDATES (Always note the date of the articles in this section. Newer posts first. )
q) Hydroxychloroquine being tested in Mumbai slums (17-Apr-2020).
i) India announces Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for poor. (26-March-2020).
h) ICMR advocates caution in the usage of hydroxychloroquine. (25-Mar-2020).
g) Private labs allowed to conduct COVID-19 tests. (24-Mar-2020).
e) So what does a lock down mean? What can you do and what can you not? (23-Mar-2020)
d) Several states in India have gone into a lock down. Here is report on the state-wise details of the lock down. (22-Mar-2020)
a) This article in the Economist (dated 12-Mar-2020) tells us more about the virus itself, and the various drugs that are being tried out to combat it. Also see this article on The Print dated 19-Mar-2020, on the same topic.
B. Situation in India
a) Official Website of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This is where all the official advisories and guidelines of the country are being put up.
b) Government of India permits National Research Labs to carry out COVID-19 testing and research.
c) What does the lock down announced on 24-March imply? Here is the official government document.
q) The pandemic offers a new vision for Indian cities. Raghu Karnad speculates.
C. Do’s, Don’ts and other FAQs
a) WHO guidelines for the public, is a very comprehensive set of advice about do’s and don’ts. Includes information about usage of masks, advice for health workers, answers to common misconceptions etc. For a simpler version, see this video from MOHFW.
b) Do’s and Don’ts of Social Distancing from The Atlantic. This article records the views of multiple experts on norms of social distancing. So the reader needs to use his/her own judgment.
c) What Do You Tell Someone Who Still Won’t Stay Home? Interesting tips from The Atlantic to convince your loved ones to stay back!
d) A set of Frequently Asked Questions, answered by Gautam Menon on India Bioscience.
e) A free e-book from The Hindu on understanding the coronavirus pandemic and staying protected against COVID-19. This e-book has now been translated into multiple Indian languages, an effort involving more than 100 translators and reviewers, coordinated by Confluence.
f) How to clean your home for Coronavirus? A New York Times Report.
g) Masks are hard to get by these days, and many people are trying to make their own at home. Check out this article to know what are the best materials for the purpose.
i) A live Question-Answer session with Prof V. Ravi, Senior Professor and Head, Neurovirology Department, NIMHANS.
j) Experts from the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) at Penn State University, USA, have opened a forum for answering questions from its viewers. You can email your questions to AskCIDD@psu.edu.
m) Prof Partha P. Majumder, President of The Indian Academy of Sciences, explains why Indians must comply with the lock down.
D. Information about the virus and its spread
a) This free Coursera course on COVID19 is being offered by Imperial College London. Titled ‘Science Matters: Let’s Talk about COVID-19’, this course aims to cover the theory behind the analyses of COVID-19 and its spread as well as the interpretation of “new information using core principles of public health, epidemiology, medicine, health economics, and social science”. Also worth checking out is this course by instructors from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
c) Can COVID-19 be a virus made by human beings using genetic engineering? In this article in the scientific journal Nature the authors show that it is highly unlikely. They state that “…. since we observed all notable SARS-CoV-2 features, including the optimized RBD and polybasic cleavage site, in related coronaviruses in nature, we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.” The actual Nature study is somewhat technical. A more easily accessible description of the crucial findings of the study can be found in this article.
d) What is the logic for social isolation for stopping COVID-19? This article combines data from China and the rest of the world, with some simple simulations, to come up with an answer.
e) How stable is COVID-19 on various surfaces? Read this report based on a paper in New England Journal of Medicine.
f) “Flattening the curve” has become a buzz word. What is it and how does it work? Check out for yourself using a simulation from Washington Post, and a slightly more detailed one from Katapult magazine.
g) Why is the Coronavirus so successful in infecting the global human population? Scientists still do not know for sure, but have some guesses. Here is a brief review from The Atlantic.
h) Anecdotal observations suggest that at least some people affected with COVID-19 might lose the sense of smell and taste.
i) One of the major problems of detecting COVID-19 is that the tests are complex and time-consuming. USFDA has now approved a test that can be done in 45 minutes, and will start shipping soon.
j) At times of pandemics, several theories float around. Although some are easily identifiable as wrong, many are more difficult to either believe or disbelieve. The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford has a compilation of articles that examine the evidences for various theories related to the pandemic. Updated daily.
m) COVID-19 is known to be more lethal for senior citizens. But what do scientists know so far about its effects on children?
r) Destruction of habitat and loss of biodiversity are creating the perfect conditions for diseases like COVID-19 to emerge. As habitat and biodiversity loss increase globally, the novel coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics.
u) Does physical isolation really work in slowing down the pandemic? The answer seems to be yes. Another report from India has similar indications.
v) First saliva Test for COVID-19 approved for emergency use by FDA. Restricted availability as of now.
E. For scientists and students (technical background needed for the links in this section)
a) List of all biorxiv and medrxiv preprints on Corona. This list is being updated constantly. If you want to get information from the cutting edge of corona research, this is the place to go. Just remember, at the cutting edge, you are very likely to bleed!! These pre-prints have NOT been peer-reviewed. That means no one (barring the authors themselves) have checked the results from these studies. So please be very careful while looking at these results. Caveat emptor.
b) Are you a developer with some spare time? Then you can checkout this Github repository with links to open-source projects, applications and information about COVID-19, and contribute in whatever way possible.
c) A simulation of the well-known SEIR model for predicting the number of infected people in a pandemic. You can use this to “predict” the course of COVID-19 (according to this model) using various estimates from the literature (also provided).
d) The Coronavirus Tech Handbook. This is a massive set of resources that “provides a space for technologists, civic organisations, public & private institutions, researchers and specialists of all kinds to collaborate on a rapid and sophisticated response to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent impacts. It is a quickly evolving resource with thousands of active expert contributors.”
e) All over the world, scientists are working furiously to disover a cure for COVID-19. What are some of the strategies that can possibly be used, based on whatever little we know about the biology of the bacteria? Check out this Ars Technica article for a discussion.
f) It is generally agreed that wide-spread testing is going to be one of the keys for beating COVID-19. But how does the testing work? Check out this article.
k) Did the harsh control measures implemented by China play a role in taming COVID-19 in that country? This paper suggests that the answer is yes.
l) Research and development on therapeutic agents and vaccines for COVID-19 and related human coronavirus diseases: A American Chemical Society review.
F. Other aspects of the pandemic
b) How to keep the health-care workers away from infection? Atul Gawande discusses in The New York Times.
c) How does social distancing affect people who are already suffering from some major ailment? A cancer patient (who is also a doctor) speaks.
d) Almost every section of the society has been affected by the lock down. Here is something on the plight of the Ola-Uber drivers at the time of Corona.
e) How doctors are turning to social media to learn from each other’s experience in real time.
f) What will be the effects of COVId-19 on world economy and how to remedy the situation? More than 40 prominent world economists have come together to produce an ebook called “Mitigating the COVID Economic Crisis: Act Fast and Do Whatever It Takes”. Here is a brief report on the book and here is the book itself.
h) Citizen science for COVID-19 research: Contribute to the effort to beat the virus, without stepping out.
j) Samanth Subramanian follows one scientist engaged in finding a vaccine for COVID-19 and dives into the murky business of vaccine research.
k) Some experts feel that we need a completely new economic system to deal with a post-CoVID-19 world.
n) Individual countries have handled the crisis in their own ways, with different degrees of success. But what about a global leadership?
s) A lot has been said about shortage of goods in the market being caused by panic buying. However, the reality can be more complex than that. A case study of the toilet paper shortage in the US markets.
t) M.K. Narayanan, a former National Security Adviser and a former Governor of West Bengal, speculates on the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world order.
v) Why social media are crucial for front-line physicians in the fight against COVID-19? Brief answer: the disease spreads so fast and is so poorly understood that doctors and researchers are sharing their findings on Twitter and Facebook, not medical journals.
G. Effects of the pandemic on mental health
Note: Links b-i were compiled by the Medical Committee of IISER Pune, as a resource for its students and staff.
b) Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak – from Mental Health Foundation
c) 9 Practices To Help Maintain Mental Health During The Coronavirus Lockdown – from Forbes Healthcare
d) Stress and Coping – from CDC
f) How to talk to teens about the new coronavirus – from Harvard Health
g) How to talk to children about the coronavirus – from Harvard Health
h) How to Talk to Your Child About Coronavirus : Tips to help comfort and protect your child – from Cleveland Clinic
j) A review of the potential mental health pandemic that is about to follow the current one.
k) Mental health in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. A set of guidelines from NIMHANS.