One of COVID-19's scariest mysteries is why some people are mildly ill or have no symptoms and others rapidly die — and scientists are starting to unravel why.
An international team of researchers found that in some people with severe COVID-19, the body goes rogue and attacks one of its own key immune defenses instead of fighting the coronavirus. Most were men, helping to explain why the virus is hitting men harder than women.
And separate research suggests that children fare better than adults thanks to robust “first responder” immune cells that wane with age.
They're the latest in a list of studies uncovering multiple features of the immune system's intricate cascade that can tip the scales between a good or bad outcome. Next up: Figuring out if all these new clues might offer much-needed ways to intervene.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held an “extensive conversation" Wednesday on a huge COVID-19 rescue package, meeting face to face for the first time in more than a month in a last-ditch effort to seal a tentative accord on an additional round of coronavirus relief.
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After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying the two would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification," she said.
“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement," Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.
Despite the optimism, the Democratic-controlled House will vote Wednesday night on a partisan $2.2 trillion virus relief bill that is strongly opposed by Republicans.
In other developments:
- The World Health Organization announced nearly $1 billion in new pledges for the effort to battle the coronavirus pandemic and make sure that poor countries get treatments and vaccines against COVID-19.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio says no one was fined for mask refusal on the first day of a promised crackdown in a handful of New York City neighborhoods that have seen a spike in coronavirus infections.
- The Tennessee Titans have at least one more day to see if the team’s coronavirus outbreak is under control before their game with Pittsburgh is rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday.
- The NFL is threatening teams with possible suspensions for sideline personnel, including coaches, who do not properly wear face coverings during the pandemic.
- The conference commissioners who manage the College Football Playoff have decided to stick with a four-team format during this pandemic-altered season after the Pac-12 made a request to consider expansion.
- British lawmakers have renewed the government’s sweeping powers to impose emergency restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic, although many legislators criticized the way Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative administration has used them.
- The U.N.'s International Labour Organization said Wednesday that at least 34 million jobs have been lost in Latin America due to the coronavirus pandemic.