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Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery

Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery

Illustration: Jenna Luecke

A highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant was unknowingly spreading for months in the United States by October 2020, according to a new study from researchers with The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. Scientists first discovered it in early December in the United Kingdom, where the highly contagious and more lethal variant is thought to have originated. The journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which has published an early-release version of the study, provides evidence that the coronavirus variant B117 (501Y) had spread across the globe undetected for months when scientists discovered it.

Scientists Discover How Remdesivir Works to Inhibit Coronavirus

Scientists Discover How Remdesivir Works to Inhibit Coronavirus

Remdesivir is the only antiviral drug approved for use in the U.S. against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Gilead.

More effective antiviral treatments could be on the way after research from The University of Texas at Austin sheds new light on the COVID-19 antiviral drug remdesivir, the only treatment of its kind currently approved in the U.S. for the coronavirus.

Texas Coronavirus Scientists Win Award for Research with ‘Great Societal Benefit’

Texas Coronavirus Scientists Win Award for Research with ‘Great Societal Benefit’

Jason McLellan (left) and Daniel Wrapp have been awarded the Golden Goose Award. Credit: Vivian Abagiu.

The world's largest multidisciplinary scientific society has announced that Jason McLellan, a University of Texas at Austin associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, and Daniel Wrapp, a graduate student fellow, were among seven winners of this year's Golden Goose Award. Supported by members of Congress from both parties and a coalition of businesses, universities and scientific societies since 2012, the prize this year went to scientists "whose federally funded research has had a significant impact for the response and treatment of COVID-19."

New Tool Helps Parents and Educators Estimate COVID-19 Infection Numbers at Their School

New Tool Helps Parents and Educators Estimate COVID-19 Infection Numbers at Their School

With COVID-19 cases hitting new highs across the country, a new online tool can help families and school leaders estimate how many infected people are likely to show up at a school on a given day anywhere in the United States. The free, interactive dashboard was produced by The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

Coronavirus Mutation May Have Made It More Contagious

Coronavirus Mutation May Have Made It More Contagious

The number of virus strains present in each zip code in Houston during the second wave of COVID-19 cases in summer 2020. Number of strains is represented by a spectrum of colors from blue (0 strains) to red (50 strains). Credit: Houston Methodist/University of Texas at Austin.

A study involving more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Houston finds that the virus that causes the disease is accumulating genetic mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. According to the paper published in the peer-reviewed journal mBIO, that mutation, called D614G, is located in the spike protein that pries open our cells for viral entry. It's the largest peer-reviewed study of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences in one metropolitan region of the U.S. to date.

Curbing COVID-19 Hospitalizations Requires Attention to Construction Workers

Curbing COVID-19 Hospitalizations Requires Attention to Construction Workers

Construction workers have a much higher risk of becoming hospitalized with the novel coronavirus than non-construction workers, according to a new study from researchers with The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

Is Coronavirus Mutating Amid its Rapid U.S. Spread?

Is Coronavirus Mutating Amid its Rapid U.S. Spread?

A new study, currently awaiting peer review and involving more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Houston, finds that the virus that causes the disease is accumulating genetic mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. According to the paper posted this week to the preprint server medRxiv, that mutation, called D614G, was also implicated in an earlier study in the UK in possibly making the virus easier to spread. The Washington Post was among several outlets reporting the findings this week.

New Dashboards Launched to Track COVID-19 Across Texas Communities

New Dashboards Launched to Track COVID-19 Across Texas Communities

The University of Texas at Austin's COVID-19 Modeling Consortium has launched a new online dashboard to track the spread and impact of the virus, including in hospitals across Texas, with detailed information for 22 areas.

Antibody Test Developed for COVID-19 That is Sensitive, Specific and Scalable

Antibody Test Developed for COVID-19 That is Sensitive, Specific and Scalable

An antibody test for the virus that causes COVID-19, developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with Houston Methodist and other institutions, is more accurate and can handle a much larger number of donor samples at lower overall cost than standard antibody tests currently in use. In the near term, the test can be used to accurately identify the best donors for convalescent plasma therapy and measure how well candidate vaccines and other therapies elicit an immune response.

UT Austin Will Test More Than 5,000 a Week for COVID-19

UT Austin Will Test More Than 5,000 a Week for COVID-19

Samples are loaded into a liquid handling robot at the High Throughput Testing Core (HTTC) on campus. Photo by Vivian Abagiu.

When the novel coronavirus began spreading across the United States this spring, The University of Texas at Austin quickly purchased three state-of-the-art robots and assembled additional equipment capable of processing hundreds of COVID-19 test samples every day.