Physicians treating severe cases of COVID-19 have focused on halting the damage caused by the coronavirus. But they face another vexing challenge: an overreaction of the immune system in fighting off the virus. An immunologist explains cutting-edge research on how the immune system reacts to this disease which, he argues, can lead to more targeted treatments.

Also in this week’s science and research news: the latest figures on excess deaths in the U.S., emerging tools for fighting deepfakes, and an explanation of how and when the coronavirus can spread even outside.

Martin La Monica

Deputy Editor

Are patients with severe COVID-19 victims of their own immune response? JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/Getty Images

An autoimmune-like antibody response is linked with severe COVID-19

Matthew Woodruff, Emory University

Patients suffering from severe COVID-19 may be experiencing a rogue antibody response similar to that seen in autoimmune diseases. The findings offer new approaches for COVID-19 therapy.

AI-powered detectors are the best tools for spotting AI-generated fake videos. The Washington Post via Getty Images

In a battle of AI versus AI, researchers are preparing for the coming wave of deepfake propaganda

John Sohrawardi, Rochester Institute of Technology; Matthew Wright, Rochester Institute of Technology

Fake videos generated with sophisticated AI tools are a looming threat. Researchers are racing to build tools that can detect them, tools that are crucial for journalists to counter disinformation.

A girl views the body of her father, who died of COVID-19, while mourners who can’t visit in person are onscreen. Joe Raedle/Getty Images News via Getty Images

279,700 extra deaths in the US so far in this pandemic year

Ronald D. Fricker Jr., Virginia Tech

Health statisticians keep careful tabs on how many people die every week. Based on what's happened in past years, they know what to expect – but 2020 death counts are surging beyond predictions.

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