Coronavirus positive: our new daily round-up of good news

A daily compendium of positive coronavirus news stories from around the world, published every weekday at 12.30

A researcher works on a vaccin against the new coronavirus COVID-19 at the Copenhagen's University research lab in Copenhagen, Denmark
Scientists and researchers around the world are working hard on developing a vaccine for coronavirus Credit: AFP

Great news everyone, there’s a good chance you’ve got coronavirus! Stick with me.

Modelling from the University of Oxford suggests that up to half of the UK population may already have been infected with the virus, far more people than previously thought.

This sounds worrying but once you’ve moved past the default setting of constant terror and panic, which are so in right now, it might be good news.

If the true number of people to have this coronavirus is higher than thought, it follows that the disease is less likely than feared to cause serious symptoms and a trip to hospital. It also awakens our old friend herd immunity from its week-long slumber. If a higher proportion of people have already had the virus than we had imagined, its spread around newly-infected people will slow down.

This is a different line of thinking to the model developed used by Imperial which has informed the government's approach. “I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” Professor Sunetra Gupta told the FT.

While Imperial’s work is widely accepted to be first-rate, Oxford’s has already come under some criticism for making too many assumptions. Nevertheless the Oxford line suggests we could be back to our usual lives sooner than expected. Fulfilling train commutes! Shouting at other road users! Wearing tights and trousers instead of pyjamas! What a grand old time we’ll have. 

More encouraging news from Team Whitecoat, USA branch, that perhaps this virus isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Covid-19 is not mutating much as it passes through the human population, which is positive on two fronts. Firstly it avoids a scenario where the virus becomes more dangerous as it infects more people, secondly it makes developing a vaccine more straightforward. 

The humble flu is one of those trickier customers that changes over time, but corona appears to be a little bit more basic, as the children say. “At this point, the mutation rate of the virus would suggest that the vaccine developed for SARS-CoV-2 would be a single vaccine, rather than a new vaccine every year like the flu vaccine,” said Peter Thielen, a molecular geneticist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, speaking to the Washington Post.  

Top work, then from the men and women toiling in labs. It’s enough to make Michael Gove change his opinion about experts. You’d hope.

Elsewhere we have this from social media’s most self-aware person James Blunt:

And finally something delightful from Rima Bascombe who received an inventive Mother’s Day present last weekend. She writes: “I took some photos of the flowers in my garden and sent them to my son, he put music to them and posted it on YouTube on Mother's Day, I thought this was lovely and makes me smile.”

Thanks Rima, it made me smile too. Here’s Harriet with the rest of the good news:

  • India's air quality has immediately improved under the coronavirus lockdown. At least 75 districts in India – the country which has half of the world’s most polluted cities – are in lock-down. Since March 5 nitrogen oxide levels have fallen by approximately 45 per cent in Mumbai and Pune, and by 50 per cent in Ahmedabad. The air quality ranking is now ‘satisfactory’.
  • Sarah Knapton reports that coronavirus patients will be treated with an HIV drug or steroid as part of a trial to see if existing medications can beat the deadly infection. Researchers from the University of Oxford enrolled the first patient last week, and want hospitals to sign up thousands more people in the coming weeks.
  • The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy fell for the second day in a row on Monday, and the person with the first known case of local transmission – known as Patient 1 – has left the hospital. The country recorded 4,789 new cases on Monday compared to 5,560 cases on Sunday, raising hopes that the lockdown is working.
  • Children around the world are painting rainbows to hang in their windows to raise the spirits of passers-by. The trend has become popular in the UK since schools closed. PA reports that in Oldham, Vicky Corbley's children posted a rainbow in her kitchen window, with the messages "don't worry" and "we'll get through," with messages thanking delivery drivers and postal workers. Children have also been sending paintings to residents as Huntington and Langham Estate, a care home in Surrey, to lift the residents’ spirits.
Children around the world are hanging posters of rainbows to raise moral Credit: Javi Julio/Barcroft Media 
  • The RSPB has started a breakfast birdwatch weekdays between 8-9am. They’re calling on the public to join them in watching wildlife, share photos and discuss nature from the safety of their homes. Join in here.
  • David Lloyd Clubs have donated all excess perishables to local NHS teams and vulnerable groups. Il Pagliaccio's restaurant is giving free pizza to hospital staff in Fulham. Meanwhile, London-based luxury florist Wildabout are closing today and delivering 500 remaining bouquets to six London hospitals.
  • After two months of lockdown, Wuhan will reopen on April 8. Citizens have already started to move around the city but will be able to leave entirely if they present a card showing a clean bill of health. It follows a significant reduction in cases in the Hubei region.

By Harriet Barber

TODAY’S MOODBOARD

Three pleasant things to put into your head 

1.

Italian priest Paolo Longo attempts to give a sermon via video, but had reckoned without his app's novelty filters, which he's accidentally switched on. 

2.

Credit: DAVID ROSE

Sunrise over the village of Bottisham in Cambridgeshire.

3. 

  • Do you have some good news to share? What's made you happier in the past 24 hours? Have you seen a pleasing picture of a bird? Please send it all our way, either by commenting below or emailing [email protected] 
  • For stories showcasing community spirit, plus the best advice for coping with coronavirus isolation sign up for our free You Are Not Alone newsletter