Insight Into a Mystery Illness in China

January 10, 2020, 12:17 AM UTC

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Good afternoon, readers.

There’s been a curious (and concerning) pneumonia-like outbreak in China—and we may finally have some clues as to what’s causing it.

China’s Xinhua news agency reports that the lung illness, which has affected about 60 people so far, may be linked to a new form of coronavirus (a biological suspect that was already under investigation by the World Health Organization, as the BBC notes). The coronavirus is one that can cause a broad range of respiratory and sinus conditions—but the gravity of the situation can fluctuate significantly depending on the precise strain.

This process needs to play itself out given the nature of viruses and their various mutations, which can affect everything from emergency response to a basic understanding of how a specific pathogen spreads. In the meantime, according to the BBC, certain travelers and passengers in China will go through health screenings.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


NuvoAir gets FDA clearance for its lung disease connected device. MobiHealthNews reports that NuvoAir has cleared its digitally connected device for lung disease patients—AirNext, a "spirometer" that could be used by used by patients with relatively common conditions like asthma and chronic lung disease, as well as rare disease patients who suffer from cystic fibrosis. (MobiHealthNews)


FDA approves another rare cancer drug. The FDA appears to continue its drug approval binge in this new year, clearing Blueprint Medicine's stomach cancer treatment (for a rare form of the disease). More on this later. (Reuters)

A clarification about the lung cancer death rate study. I wanted to issue a clarification about something: The cancer death study which we blurbed last night is a bit nuanced. The study only refers to death rates—not actual deaths. Those are two very different things. And the death rate analysis is an age-adjusted one, which opens up a whole new can of worms. The main takeaway, though, is that a reduction of death rates is not the same thing as a reduction in deaths.


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