SCMP - HK researchers find 3-drug combination suppresses virus nearly twice as fast as drug held up as hope against pandemic

Hong Kong's Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, one of the world's foremost infectious disease experts, led the study. Photo: Edmond So

A combination of three drugs suppressed the coronavirus within seven days when used on patients in Hong Kong, nearly twice as fast as a single medicine did, in a result seen as a leading hope in the fight against the pandemic, a study has found.

The findings of the research, led by University of Hong Kong academics and published in The Lancet on Saturday, could signal progress in the search for a standard form of therapy for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease.

It discovered that using the antiviral drugs interferon beta-1b, lopinavir-ritonavir and ribavirin together was "safe and more effective" in reducing the duration of viral shedding – when the coronavirus is detectable and potentially transmissible – for patients with mild to moderate symptoms, while accelerating their recovery.

Read full article

The Guardian - Lockdowns can't end until Covid-19 vaccine found, study says

Professor Joseph T Wu, School of Public Health, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong

Countries wanting to end the lockdown and allow people to move about and work again will have to monitor closely for new infections and adjust the controls they have in place until there is a vaccine against Covid-19, according to a new study based on the Chinese experience.

China’s aggressive controls over daily life have brought the first wave of Covid-19 to an end, say researchers based in Hong Kong. But the danger of a second wave is very real.

“While these control measures appear to have reduced the number of infections to very low levels, without herd immunity against Covid-19, cases could easily resurge as businesses, factory operations, and schools gradually resume and increase social mixing, particularly given the increasing risk of imported cases from overseas as Covid-19 continues to spread globally,” says Prof Joseph T Wu from the University of Hong Kong, who co-led the research.

Read full article

CNN - Asia may have been right about coronavirus and face masks, and the rest of the world is coming around

Professor Ivan Hung Fan-ngai, Assistant Dean (Admissions), Department of Medicine Photo credit: HKUMED

Speaking to CNN, Ivan Hung, an infectious diseases specialist at the Hong Kong University School of Medicine, said that "if you look at the data in Hong Kong, wearing a mask is probably the most important thing in terms of infection control."

"And it not only brings down the cases of coronaviruses, it also brings down the influenza," he said. "In fact, this is now the influenza season, and we hardly see any influenza cases. And that is because the masks actually protected not only against coronaviruses but also against the influenza viruses as well."

Read full article

SCMP - Coronavirus: hamsters may show path toward reducing viral load in Covid-19 patients, Hong Kong microbiology team finds

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung explains the new animal model his team has been using for Covid-19 experiments. Photo credits: May Tse, SCMP

  • Hamsters infected with coronavirus after first being injected with blood serum from recovered subjects found to have a viral load 10 times smaller.
  • The team is now awaiting word from the city’s Medical Council if they will be able to attempt the experiments on humans.

Hong Kong scientists are using a blood serum from hamsters that have recovered from Covid-19 in experiments they say have significantly reduced the viral loads in other subjects.

The experiments have also shown that hamsters – which have enzyme receptors similar to those in humans – can recover from the coronavirus if they are strong enough to survive the first seven days after onset.

The findings come to light as Hong Kong faces a fresh wave of Covid-19 cases, with the tally of infected rising to 714 on Tuesday, with four fatalities. The virus has infected more than 771,000 worldwide and killed over 36,000.

Read full article

HKU State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases joins global effort to develop COVID-19 vaccine

The HKU research team

The State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases of the University of Hong Kong (the SKL) has partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to rapidly develop a vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

Launched at Davos in 2017, CEPI is a partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. The SKL, which was established in 2005 and co-directed by Professor K.Y. Yuen of the Department of Microbiology, has played a key role in supporting Hong Kong SAR in response to several outbreaks of infectious diseases including the current COVID-19.

The HKU team led by Professor Honglin Chen, along with team members Professor Zhiwei Chen, Professor Yiwu He and Professor Kwok-Yung Yuen, is the latest team globally to join CEPI for development of a vaccine for COVID-19. Currently there are seven COVID-19 vaccines in development by different expert teams in the world.

President and Vice-Chancellor of HKU Professor Xiang Zhang said: "I'm thankful for the support from CEPI. The University of Hong Kong has outstanding researchers in emerging infectious diseases. I'm hopeful the vaccine being developed in our labs will contribute to the containment of COVID-19."

Read full article

The Washington Post - Hong Kong learned from SARS. Can the United States learn from Hong Kong?

Keiji Fukuda, head of the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health

The traumas of recent history have informed Hong Kong's response to the current coronavirus pandemic. An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, better known by its acronym, SARS, tore through the city in 2003, leaving 299 people dead.

Keiji Fukuda, a U.S. expert on infectious diseases and former assistant director-general for health security at the World Health Organization, told Today's WorldView that SARS and other outbreaks provided lessons for Hong Kong that it is applying today. "Virtually everybody here has been through the drill," he said. "They know the consequences."

Read full article

SCMP - Coronavirus epidemic will not end this year, Hong Kong's leading microbiologist says

HKU microbiologist Professor Yuen Kwok-yung. Photo credits: K.Y. Cheng, SCMP

The Covid-19 epidemic caused by the coronavirus will not end this year as the contagion has spread worldwide, a leading microbiologist from Hong Kong has said.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong, who advised authorities on control measures against the disease, said although the situation in mainland China and Hong Kong might improve in summer, there could be more imported cases from the southern hemisphere in winter.

"We think the epidemic will probably not come to an end," Yuen said on a pre-recorded television interview aired on Sunday. "There will be what we call reversed imported cases. In the beginning other countries feared us, now we fear them [for bringing in the virus]."

Read full article

China Daily - HKU expert: COVID-19 fatality rate at 1.4%

Professor Gabriel Leung and Professor Joseph Wu, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, HKUMed, at the press conference. Photo credit: LKS Faculty of Medicine, HKU

Hong Kong medical experts on Friday revealed their findings that showed the fatality rate of the coronavirus pneumonia was 1.4 percent, much lower than the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier estimate of 3.4 percent.

Gabriel Matthew Leung, dean of the University of Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, said in a press conference that their calculation was based on a trusted mathematical model.

He said that WHO reached its conclusion by dividing cumulative deaths by cumulative cases. However, some countries have failed to report its confirmed cases to the organization while in some cases, the organization failed to single out deaths among the newly diagnosed.

Read full article

SCMP - Coronavirus: Hong Kong expert claims outbreak is now a pandemic and US death could be 'tip of the iceberg'

Professor Gabriel Leung believes the coronavirus can now be called a pandemic. Photo: Edmond So, SCMP

A top medical expert in Hong Kong believes the coronavirus epidemic can now be labelled a global pandemic, as it has spread quickly across several countries.

Professor Gabriel Leung, dean of the University of Hong Kong's (HKU) medical faculty, added the first death recorded in the United States was worrying, as it indicated there could be more confirmed cases in the country.

However, the World Health Organisation has stopped short of calling the outbreak a pandemic, with director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying health officials had not yet witnessed the "uncontained global spread", or "large-scale severe disease or death" associated with a pandemic.

Read full article

NPR - Hong Kong Has Contained Coronavirus So Far — But At A Significant Cost

Keiji Fukuda, the head of the school of public health at the University of Hong Kong, says the city's efforts to contain imported cases of the coronavirus are working.

The centerpiece of Hong Kong's containment strategy is aggressively tracking down suspected cases and quickly quarantining anyone who's potentially been exposed. At one point in February, the city had nearly 12,000 people in various forms of quarantine. Some are held in what used to be summer camps, others in a just-completed complex of public housing towers. Some are electronically monitored at home.

"I think Hong Kong is an excellent example of why we can think that these methods work," says Keiji Fukuda, who helped lead the World Health Organization's response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak. Fukuda is now the director of the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong.

Read full article
Back to HKU Combats COVID-19