Richard Harris

During the coronavirus pandemic, many scientists who usually have nothing to do with viruses or infectious disease are turning their attention to COVID-19. For example, one wildlife biologist is raising questions about the accuracy of tests that detect the coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Last month the White House issued guidelines suggesting a way to reduce the number of false positive results in antibody tests: Run two tests. But that strategy has not yet been validated for coronavirus testing. And the details matter.

Most people infected with the novel coronavirus develop antibodies in response.

But scientists don't know whether people who have been exposed to the coronavirus will be immune for life, as is usually the case for the measles, or if the disease will return again and again, like the common cold.

The Food and Drug Administration is stiffening its rules to counteract what some have called a Wild West of antibody testing for the coronavirus.

These tests are designed to identify people who have been previously exposed to the virus. The FDA said more than 250 developers have been bringing products to the market in the past few weeks.

Dozens of blood tests are rapidly coming on the market to identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus by checking for antibodies against it.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn't set standards for these kinds of tests, but even those that meet the government's informal standard may produce many false answers and provide false assurances. The imperfect results could be a big disappointment to people who are looking toward these tests to help them return to something resembling a normal life.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

This Sunday is Easter, the day that, just a few weeks ago, President Trump had forecast as reopening day for America. Here he is on Fox News, March 24.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Over the last three weeks, with businesses across the U.S. closing up in the fight against the coronavirus, nearly 17 million people have filed for unemployment.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In New York today, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared this news. For the second day in a row, his state did not see a large rise in COVID-19 deaths.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ALISA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The nation's 15 days of social distancing are nearly over. And while many states have issued stay-at-home orders for much longer periods of time, new guidance from the White House coronavirus task force is due soon.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The toll of the coronavirus pandemic is steep - hundreds of thousands of confirmed infections around the world, tens of thousands of lives lost.

ALISA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

This afternoon, in the White House briefing room, a reporter asked President Trump the question that's on the minds of most Americans - when will life go back to normal? This is how the president answered.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

One trillion dollars - that is how much money the Trump administration is asking Congress to give them to fight the economic devastation brought on by the coronavirus.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In the face of mixed messages and confusion about who can or should be tested for the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted updated guidance for doctors on Sunday about when to test a patient.

The short answer is, if your doctor thinks a test is appropriate, he or she can request the test. But a request doesn't guarantee that you'll get one.

Confused? You're not alone.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

As the coronavirus spreads more widely around the globe, scientists are starting to use a powerful new tool: a blood test that identifies people who have previously been exposed to the virus. This kind of test is still under development in the United States, but it has been rolled out for use in Singapore and China.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Tonight, President Trump tried to quell rising fears about the effects of the growing coronavirus outbreak.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Despite worrisome new outbreaks in Iran, Italy and South Korea, the coronavirus disease called COVID-19 is not currently a pandemic, the World Health Organization said today.

In fact, there are some encouraging trends, especially in Hubei province, where most of the cases have been reported.

The epidemic there appears to have plateaued in late January and is continuing on a good trajectory. Dr. Bruce Aylward led a WHO trip to China with a scientific delegation that just concluded. On Sunday, he told reporters in Beijing that trend is real.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Pages