A racoon dog (Image: Flikr/Tambako)

Fake vaccines and blood have been advertised on the dark web to treat coronavirus, while a frostbite-like rash may be a newly discovered symptom of the virus.

Here’s what’s happening in the world of COVID-19

Fake cures selling fast 

An investigation by the Australian Institute of Criminology has found hundreds of fake coronavirus vaccines, personal protective gear (PPE) and antiviral drugs for sale on the dark web at a huge markup. 

There were 224 listings for PPE, making up 45% of all coronavirus-related product listings, with most sellers located in the US and China. 

Blood has also been spruiked on the dark web as a “passive vaccine” for coronavirus. 

Antiviral drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, touted by both US President Donald Trump and former senator Clive Palmer as a treatment for COVID-19, made up around a third of listings. The drugs have not been found to be effective in treating the virus and can cause abnormal heart rhythms

Symptoms keep cropping up 

More than four months after the discovery of COVID-19, we’re still learning about potential symptoms of the virus. The latest discovery is that frostbite-like patches on people’s toes, along with other minor rashes, may be linked to the novel coronavirus. 

One dermatologist in Boston saw a huge spike in calls about the toe-rashes, with many patients testing positive for COVID-19. 

The latest discovery comes just days after UK doctors expressed concern about a possible link between rare syndromes and coronavirus in children.

Remdesivir to the rescue

US trials of the drug remdesivir, first tried on Ebola patients, is showing positive results. Patients who trialled the drug recovered 31% faster from coronavirus than those using a placebo, cutting recovery times from 15 days to 11.

The drug is thought to also reduce the death rate of COVID-19.

Pangolin, racoons and bats (oh my!) 

There’s been a great deal of speculation as to how COVID-19 passed from animals to humans. One widely-reported theory is the virus originated in bats, before jumping to an intermediate host — the pangolin.  

But Germany’s leading COVID-19 expert Christian Drosten has flagged a new theory — that the virus passed through raccoon dogs, which are widely sold in China for their fur. The virus has also been found in civet cats, a mammal closely related to the mongoose. 

Drosten also expressed frustration at the “prevention paradox”, the phenomenon that the success of stopping the spread of COVID-19 is reframed as an overreaction to the virus. 

Drosten, who directs the Institute of Virology at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, said many consider him to be the “evil guy crippling the economy”. It seems the experts can never win. 

You can’t escape the Ruby Princess

A Ruby Princess passenger may have been patient zero for Tasmania’s coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to 219 people in the state, killing 12.

Two passengers were admitted to North-West Regional Hospital in late March, infecting staff with coronavirus who continued to work for several days with mild respiratory symptoms.

The Ruby Princess has been linked to more than 600 cases in Australia and 21 deaths.