06/16/2020 18:11 GMT — MNT video update: The Recovery Room

06/16/2020 15:05 GMT — Global number of COVID-19 cases passes 8 million

06/16/2020 10:21 GMT — FDA retracts Emergency Use Authorization for hydroxychloroquine

After weeks of controversy surrounding hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have stated that the drugs are “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19” and revoked their Emergency Use Authorization. 

Doubts about the validity of a clinical trial showing that hydroxychloroquine had no benefit in the treatment of COVID-19 recently led The Lancet to retract a study paper. 

Yet, concerns about serious side effects have been mounting. “In light of ongoing, serious cardiac adverse events and other serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of [chloroquine] and [hydroxychloroquine] no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use,” the FDA statement says.

Read more here.

06/16/2020 09:42 GMT — Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from woman to baby during pregnancy is uncommon

A recent review, featuring in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, concludes that transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from the woman to the baby during pregnancy is uncommon. They also found that when it does occur, the baby is usually asymptomatic.

The researchers also conclude that breastfeeding, maternal contact, and vaginal delivery do not increase the rate of infection. One of the authors, Dr. Kate Walker, explains their findings:

“There has been a lot of concern around whether pregnant women should be concerned for the health of their babies if they contract [SARS-CoV-2]. […] From our results, we are satisfied that the chance of newborn infection with [SARS-CoV-2] is low.”

Read the full study here.

06/16/2020 08:57 GMT — Fresh COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing

Beijing, China, is experiencing a fresh outbreak of coronavirus. Since Thursday, there have been 106 new case. Officials have banned individuals who are close contacts of those with the virus from leaving the city. They hope that this will help prevent the virus from spreading outside of the capital.

Scientists have traced the new outbreak to Xinfadi wholesale food center in southwest Beijing.

Some experts worry that this recent spike might be the start of a second wave. Xu Hejian, a spokesperson from the Beijing city government said that “Beijing will take the most resolute, decisive, and strict measures to contain the outbreak.”

Read more about the recent flare-up here.

06/15/2020 11:41 GMT — Summer temperatures unlikely to significantly cut COVID-19 numbers

Researchers modeled the effects of temperature, sunlight, and rain on the transmission rate of the new coronavirus. They found that at temperatures above 52°F, the number of new cases was lower, but the effect was only modest. The highest levels of virus transmission occurred at temperatures below 30°F.

Ultraviolet light also had a modest effect on the number of new cases, but rain did not.

Read our full coverage of the research here.

06/15/2020 10:54 GMT — Record number of cases registered in some states

Yesterday, Alabama reported a new record for the daily number of new COVID-19 cases; this is the state’s fourth daily record in a row. According to Reuters, in the past 3 days, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina also reported record numbers.

Some state officials believe that the increase might be due to social gatherings that occurred during Memorial Day holiday weekend in May.

Read more here.

06/15/2020 08:55 GMT — Food industry ‘shares blame’ for severity of COVID-19 pandemic

A recent editorial, which appears in the BMJ, argues that COVID-19 is “yet one more health problem exacerbated by the obesity pandemic.” The authors write that “[f]ood industries around the world must immediately stop promoting, and governments must force reformulation of, unhealthy foods and drinks.”

Scientists at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, part of Queen Mary University of London in the United Kingdom, penned the article. The authors explain that “the food industry shares the blame not only for the obesity pandemic but also for the severity of COVID-19 disease and its devastating consequences.” 

Read MNT’s coverage of the editorial here.

06/12/2020 17:02 GMT — MNT video update: Why blood donations matter

06/12/2020 12:31 GMT — Researchers suggest a second viral entry mechanism

Previous studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor to enter a host cell. Two new studies now suggest that the neuropilin-1 (NRP1) receptor is an alternative entry point for the virus. 

Neither paper has undergone peer review yet. One shows that a part of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein can bind to NRP1. Both studies indicate that antibodies that block NRP1 can stop this interaction.

These studies bring to light potential alternatives in vaccine targets and drugs that can treat COVID-19. 

Read more here.

06/12/2020 09:49 GMT — Why blood donations during the pandemic matter

Blood donations have fallen drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recently spoke to Dr. Joel Newman, who is a consultant hematologist in the United Kingdom, about why donating blood is so important, particularly now. 

Many people may have concerns about how safe it is to donate blood during the pandemic. 

Dr. Newman told us that blood donation centers are doing everything necessary to keep blood donors safe by ensuring that staff wear the appropriate protective equipment and by allowing donors to maintain physical distancing. 

“And the other thing to think about is that blood has a ‘shelf life.’ After it’s been donated, depending on where in the world you have it done, its ‘shelf life’ is between about 35 and 42 days, depending on which area you are in, and after that, it can no longer be used,” Dr. Newman added. “So if no one donated blood from the beginning of the pandemic till now, we would have run out of blood.”

Read the full interview here.

06/12/2020 09:15 GMT — Only 34% of research authors on COVID-19 papers are women

When analyzing 1,235 research papers about the new coronavirus since the start of 2020, researchers found that women made up only 34% of authors in total, only 29% of first authors, and only 26% of senior authors. 

Research from Oceania saw the highest percentage of authors who were women, while papers from African research institutions had the lowest percentage. 

“Gender equality and inclusiveness in COVID-19 research are key to succeed in the global fight against the pandemic. The disproportionate contribution of women to COVID-19 research reflects a broader gender bias in science that should be addressed for the benefit of men and women alike,” the authors write in the paper.  

Read more here

06/11/2020 14:38 GMT — Experts discuss the impact of COVID-19 on minority communities

In an audio interview with Dr. Michele Evans, from the National Institute of Aging (NIA), the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) discuss why COVID-19 has disproportionately affected black and other ethnic minority communities. 

Dr. Michele Evans is a senior investigator and deputy scientific director at the NIA and a member of the editorial board at the NEJM.

She puts into perspective some of the recent research that highlights the toll that COVID-19 has taken on people of color, how this is entwined with structural racism in healthcare, and the effect this has on long-term health outcomes. 

“Healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” Dr. Evans said in the interview. “And we have to try to protect our patients from this environmental toxicant racism by working to understand and to try to mitigate its wide ranging effects on health.” 

Listen to the interview here

06/11/2020 13:50 GMT — Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US surpass 2 million

06/11/2020 10:45 GMT — Could a cancer drug stop excessive immune reactions in COVID-19?

Some people with severe COVID-19 show signs of hyperinflammation, which experts link to worse outcomes. Researchers tested an antiinflammatory cancer drug in 19 people with severe COVID-19 and found that some of them showed signs of improvement. 

The team from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, along with academic and industry collaborators, treated patients who received supplemental oxygen or were on mechanical ventilation with a drug called acalabrutinib.

Acalabrutinib inhibits an enzyme called Bruton tyrosine kinase, which regulates cells of the immune system called macrophages. These cells initiate inflammation when they come into contact with the new coronavirus. 

Read our full coverage of the research here.

06/11/2020 10:14 GMT — NIH fund research into potential COVID-19 treatments received by children and babies

A new study, led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), will evaluate treatments received by 7,000 children under the age of 21 with COVID-19 in an effort to better understand how children react to these drugs. 

Researchers do not test many drugs in children. If physicians want to treat a child with such a drug, they have to do so in an “off-label” setting. 

“As we search for safe and effective therapies for COVID-19, we want to make sure that we do not overlook the needs of our youngest patients who may respond differently to these drugs, compared to adults,” said the NICHD’s director, Dr. Diana Bianchi.

The NICHD team will work with around 40 centers that treat children, many of which are in or near areas with diverse communities. The NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who are funding the study. 

The researchers will assess blood samples to analyze how the drugs move through the children’s bodies. They will also collect data on side effects. 

Read more here.

06/10/2020 14:32 GMT — Limited coverage today in support of #ShutDownSTEM

Medical News Today stands with the black STEM community and supports the #ShutDownSTEM initiative. Today, the only content we will be publishing on our site is articles that highlight and explore the deep racial inequities in healthcare, as well as our COVID-19 updates.

Read more here.

06/10/2020 14:05 GMT — New study suggests there was no patient zero in the UK

Research by the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, points to more than 1,300 incidences of inbound travel as the source of the virus spreading across the country. 

The team combined virus sequencing data with the numbers of inbound travelers and worldwide COVID-19 cases to estimate individual transmission lineages. 

Each transmission lineage represents an incidence of a person traveling to the UK and passing the SARS-CoV-2 virus on to another person, thus starting a chain of transmission. 

The authors detected 1,356 such transmission lineages so far, although they write that they believe this number to be an underestimate. 

“We estimate that [around] 34% of detected U.K. transmission lineages arrived via inbound travel from Spain, [around] 29% from France, [around] 14% from Italy, and [around] 23% from other countries,” they write. Less than 0.1% of transmission lineages came to the country from China. 

The authors acknowledge that the research has several limitations. 

Read more here

06/10/2020 12:15 GMT — Dr. Fauci warns that pandemic ‘isn’t over yet’

Speaking at a conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called COVID-19 his “worst nightmare” and said that how “rapidly it just took over the planet” surprised him. 

“That’s millions and millions of infections worldwide. And it isn’t over yet. And it’s condensed in a very, very small time frame,” Dr Fauci said in a Fireside Chat session at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization International Convention. 

He also highlighted that the long-term impact of experiencing severe COVID-19 remains unclear. 

Read more here.

06/10/2020 10:11 GMT — WHO revise statement on asymptomatic transmission

Following comments made in a press briefing earlier this week suggesting that people who have the new coronavirus but are asymptomatic are unlikely to pass the virus on, the World Health Organization (WHO) have since clarified that asymptomatic transmission remains a “big open question.” 

In a live Q&A session hosted on social media, Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, Head of Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis at the WHO, explained that somewhere between 6–41% of COVID-19 cases might be asymptomatic, according to research. 

Her previous comments that asymptomatic transmission is “very rare” referred to a small number of studies and unpublished data, she added.

Dr. van Kerkhove also explained that some studies that use modeling data suggest that 40% of transmissions of the new coronavirus may be from people who are asymptomatic. 

She highlighted that both the number of asymptomatic cases and the rate of transmission from these individuals remain open questions. 

“Whatever proportion of the disease is transmitting from asymptomatic individuals, and, as Maria [van Kerkhove] said, that is unknown, and that is occurring, I’m absolutely convinced that that is occurring, the question is how much,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, added. 

See the full Q&A session here.

06/09/2020 16:25 GMT — MNT video update: Racial inequalities in COVID-19

06/09/2020 14:43 GMT — The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands at 7.14 million

06/09/2020 14:32 GMT — Were there COVID-19 cases in China as early as last August?

A new study, which has not yet undergone peer review, suggests that hospital visits and online searches for COVID-19 symptoms go back as far as August 2019 in Wuhan, China. Chinese officials do not agree with the findings. 

The study, by researchers from Boston University and Harvard Medical School, analyzed satellite images of hospital parking lots in Wuhan in combination with internet search history of the terms “diarrhea” and “cough.”

The team explains that while internet searches for the term “cough” naturally fluctuate in line with the flu season, searches for the term “diarrhea” do not follow the same pattern. The researchers report a spike in searches for “diarrhea” in August 2019. 

While they do acknowledge that their work has several limitations, they conclude that “these findings also corroborate the hypothesis that the virus emerged naturally in southern China and was potentially already circulating at the time of the Wuhan cluster.”

“I think it is ridiculous, incredibly ridiculous, to come up with this conclusion based on superficial observations such as traffic volume,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, commenting on the findings in a press briefing. 

Read more about the origins of the new coronavirus here.

06/09/2020 12:42 GMT — ‘Dramatic reductions’ in blood donations during lockdown 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to the U.S. blood supply,” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In a Special Feature article, we highlight why it is important to donate blood and what professionals are doing to ensure the process is safe. 

“Donor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations due to the implementation of physical distancing and the cancellation of blood drives,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

He added that blood donation centers are ideally placed to manage the donations of blood safely during the pandemic, as they are highly skilled in infection control practices.

Read more here.

06/09/2020 11:31 GMT — WHO say that asymptomatic transmission is ‘very rare’

In a press briefing yesterday, Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, the Head of Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis at the World Health Organization said that people who have the new coronavirus but are asymptomatic are not likely to pass the virus on to other people.

“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They’re following asymptomatic cases, they’re following contacts, and they’re not finding secondary transmission onward,” she explained. “It’s very rare and much of that is not published in the literature.” 

Dr. van Kerkhove stressed that the focus should remain on people who show symptoms of COVID-19, with countries using contact tracing and quarantining measures to slow the spread of the virus. 

“[F]rom the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic [person] actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” she concluded. 

Read the full briefing here.

06/08/2020 14:41 GMT — Study suggests that COVID-19 tests miss a significant number of cases

According to a review of existing studies, COVID-19 PCR tests have a false negative rate of at least 20%. This means that 20% of people who have the new coronavirus receive a negative test result. 

The research team — from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD — analyzed seven studies that included data from 1,330 patient samples. The team found that the rate of false negative results depended on the time since infection. 

The authors estimate that 4 days after acquiring the virus, a staggering 67% of people will have a false negative result. This rate is similar at 3 weeks. 

Around 8 days post infection, which is approximately 3 days after the average time that symptoms start, is the most accurate time to test. However, around 20% of people will still have a false negative result. 

Read our full coverage of the study here.

06/08/2020 13:07 GMT — Racial inequalities in COVID-19 — the impact on black communities

COVID-19 has served to unmask health inequities that have existed for hundreds of years. In a Special Feature article, we look at the impact that COVID-19 has on black communities, using expert opinions and rounding up the available evidence.

Among black people in the United States, deaths from COVID-19 are staggeringly high. 

A report that the nonpartisan American Public Media Research Lab issued at the end of May found that while black Americans make up 13% of the population in all the U.S. areas that had released COVID-19 mortality data at that point, they account for 25% of the deaths. 

Experts have been saying for years that we need to tackle systemic racism and the toll that it takes on the health of communities of color.

Read the full feature here

06/08/2020 11:59 GMT — Black and other minority ethnic pregnant women more likely to need hospital care

A new study shows that pregnant women who are black or from other minority ethnic groups were more likely to require hospitalization with COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.

Of the 427 pregnant women in the hospital with COVID-19, 56% were black or from other minority ethnic groups. Specifically, 25% were Asian, and 22% were black. This group was over four times as likely to need care in the hospital as pregnant white women.

The study by The UK Obstetric Surveillance System SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Pregnancy Collaborative Group has not yet been through the peer review process. The research team studied pregnant women admitted to the hospital between March 1 and April 14.

“The association between black and minority ethnicity and hospitalization with SARS-CoV-2 in pregnancy is of concern and requires further investigation,” the authors wrote in the manuscript.

“Our sensitivity analysis suggests that this cannot simply be explained by higher incidence in the main metropolitan areas with higher proportions of women from ethnic minority groups, as evidence of effect persisted when women from London, the West Midlands and the North West were excluded,” they continued. “The effect also persisted despite adjustment for age, BMI, and co-morbidities.”

Read more about the study here

06/05/2020 15:31 GMT — MNT video update: The ACTION trial

06/05/2020 14:19 GMT — Brazil’s COVID-19 cases now exceed 600,000

06/05/2020 09:04 GMT — The Lancet retracts influential hydroxychloroquine paper

A recent study published in The Lancet concluded that hydroxychloroquine treatment was “associated with decreased in-hospital survival” among people with COVID-19. Based on these results, the World Health Organization (WHO) halted trials into the drug. However, following an investigationThe Lancet has retracted the paper.

An investigation by The Guardian unearthed anomalies in the study’s data, which a United States company called Surgisphere provided. The authors of the study told The Lancet that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

An independent audit company was charged with investigating the data, but, according to The Lancet, “Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO [International Organization for Standardization] audit report to their servers for analysis.”

In a statementThe Lancet explains that it “takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously, and there are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.” 

The journal’s editor, Richard Horton, told The Guardian: “This is a shocking example of research misconduct in the middle of a global health emergency.”

Read more on the story here.

06/05/2020 09:00 GMT — Handheld UV light could kill coronavirus on surfaces

A recent paper appearing in Nature describes how a newly discovered material — which conducts electricity and is transparent to ultraviolet (UV) light — could have a use in portable devices for killing SARS-CoV-2. 

The innovative material, called strontium niobate, is one of a group of substances known as correlated metals. The authors believe that manufacturers could incorporate strontium niobate into lightweight but powerful UV LEDs for destroying pathogens.

Although this work took place before COVID-19, the authors now see UV-emitting LED technology as a potential way to deactivate the new coronavirus in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

The research is still in its initial stages, but the potential of the new material is exciting.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

06/05/2020 08:51 GMT — Further evidence that social measures slow the pandemic

A new meta-analysis, which appears in The Lancet, provides the strongest evidence to date in support of social measures to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The authors conclude that physical distancing, wearing masks, and eye protection slow the virus’ spread. 

For instance, when investigating physical distancing, they “found that with each additional 1 meter of distance, the relative degree of protection increased about two-fold. […] Overall, [this] supports measures of at least 2 meters when feasible and possible,” explains lead author Dr. Derek Chu.

Read our coverage of the study here.

06/04/2020 15:10 GMT — Global number of COVID-19 cases has now reached 6.5 million

06/04/2020 10:25 GMT — Brazil registers record COVID-19 deaths

For 2 consecutive days, Brazil has registered record numbers of deaths from COVID-19. Yesterday, they reported 1,349 deaths and 28,633 new cases. To date, Brazil has recorded 584,016 cases, which is the second highest globally. They also have the fourth highest number of related deaths, at 32,548.

More information on the global situation here.

06/04/2020 09:38 GMT — Could an antibiotic treat mild COVID-19?

A new nationwide trial in humans is examining whether azithromycin, a common antibiotic, might help treat milder cases of COVID-19. Medical News Today recently interviewed one of the lead researchers involved in the study.

Testing an antibacterial drug against a viral disease seems counterintuitive. Co-principal investigator Catherine Oldenburg, Sc.D., agrees, but explains that azithromycin “has really strong immunomodulatory effects, so it has these kind of nondirect effects on the immune system. That means it’s an interesting candidate, in terms of what it does to the immune system.”

Read the full interview here.

06/04/2020 08:53 GMT — COVID-19 ibuprofen trial underway

In the United Kingdom, scientists are investigating whether or not ibuprofen — a common, low cost anti-inflammatory drug — might help treat severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, a complication of COVID-19. The trial, called LIBERATE, uses a special formulation of ibuprofen. 

According to the National institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trials database, the study aims to “evaluate the reduction in severity and progression of lung injury with three doses of lipid ibuprofen in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections.”

In the early phases of the pandemic, experts raised concerns that ibuprofen might exacerbate mild cases of COVID-19. However, official bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) no longer advise against it.

According to Prof. Mitul Mehta, from the National Institute for Health Research, who are helping fund this study:

“This trial represents an opportunity to formally test promising results from animal models and case studies in patients. If successful, this trial will provide evidence for a low cost treatment that could benefit patients in the U.K. as well as other countries, including lower and middle income countries.”

Read more about ongoing research into COVID-19 here.

06/03/2020 09:23 GMT — Pentagon researcher says vaccine is nearing

According to senior U.S. Army vaccine researcher Colonel Wendy Sammons-Jackson, a vaccine for the new coronavirus could be available in the United States by the end of 2020.

Colonel Sammons-Jackson is director of the U.S. Military Infectious Disease Research Program; in a Pentagon news briefing, she explained that it is “reasonable to expect that there will be some form of a vaccine that could be available at some level, to a certain population, by the end of the year.”

Find more about the briefing here.

06/03/2020 09:17 GMT — Public Health England report on disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19

Yesterday, Public Health England published a report outlining “disparities in the risk and outcomes from COVID-19.” They investigated a range of factors, including age, geographic location, and level of deprivation. The report confirms that age and being male are important risk factors, but certain ethnicities are also at an increased risk.

For instance, the authors write: “People from Black ethnic groups were most likely to be diagnosed. Death rates from COVID-19 were highest among people of Black and Asian ethnic groups.”

They also showed that: “[A]fter accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation, and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death than people of White British ethnicity. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean, and Other Black ethnicity had between 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared [with] White British.“

Read more about COVID-19 racial disparities here.

06/03/2020 09:09 GMT — No evidence that mutations to SARS-CoV-2 increase transmissibility

A recent study, which appears on the preprint server BioRxiv, analyzes more than 15,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes. The authors conclude that mutations to the virus are either neutral or detrimental to its spread and do not increase its transmissibility.

One of the authors, Prof. François Balloux from the University College London Genetics Institute in the United Kingdom, explains:

“We employed a novel technique to determine whether viruses with the new mutation are actually transmitted at a higher rate and found that none of the candidate mutations appear to be benefiting the virus.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

06/02/2020 14:43 GMT — MNT video update: COVID-19 and blood clots

06/02/2020 09:03 GMT — Is the virus losing potency? The WHO say ‘no’

Last week, Prof. Alberto Zangrillo, a senior Italian doctor, claimed that SARS-CoV-2 is losing its potency. In response, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove and a number of experts explained that current scientific evidence does not back up this claim.

Prof. Zangrillo, the head of intensive care and anesthesia at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, said, “[T]he virus clinically no longer exists in Italy […]. The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared [with] the ones carried out a month or 2 months ago.”

Van Kerkhove explained that, “In terms of transmissibility, that has not changed, in terms of severity, that has not changed.” 

Martin Hibberd, an expert on the genetics of SARS-CoV-2 and professor of emerging infectious disease at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, said, “With data from more than 35,000 whole virus genomes, there is currently no evidence that there is any significant difference relating to severity.”

More on this story here.

06/02/2020 09:00 GMT — Study investigates neurological symptoms of COVID-19

A recent study, which appears in the journal Radiology, documents the neurological symptoms associated with COVID-19. The researchers analyzed data from 108 people with COVID-19 who underwent a brain scan. Of these patients, 59% experienced an “altered mental state,” and 31% experienced an ischemic stroke. 

The term “altered mental state” encompasses a wide range of signs and symptoms, including confusion, delirium, and coma. 

According to lead author Dr. Abdelkader Mahammedi, “These newly discovered patterns could help doctors better and sooner recognize associations with COVID-19 and possibly provide earlier interventions.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

06/02/2020 08:58 GMT — ‘I’ve never seen such sticky blood,’ says thrombosis expert

A significant number of people who have severe COVID-19 develop blood clots. In an interview, thrombosis expert Prof. Beverley Hunt explained why a virus that primarily infects the respiratory tract causes blood clots, and why this is dangerous for those with the new coronavirus.

Prof. Hunt, the medical director of the British charity Thrombosis UK, told MNT that inflammation leads to changes in the blood to make it more sticky and more likely to clot. 

“But we didn’t know that this was going to happen until the patients arrived. The initial reports from China, which we had a little bit of, suggested there were major clotting problems, but they called it something else, and I think they didn’t quite get it right in those early stages,” Prof. Hunt said. 

“Now we know that these patients have incredibly sticky blood. This stickiness is causing them to have deep vein thrombosis,” she continued. “And of course, if you have a deep vein thrombosis, bits of it can break off and travel through your body and block some of the blood supply to the lungs.”

Read the full interview here.

06/01/2020 15:16 GMT — Total number of COVID-19 cases around the globe has now reached 6.19 million

06/01/2020 10:55 GMT — MNT speaks with expert about COVID-19 racial disparities

MNT recently discussed COVID-19 and race-related health disparities with Tiffany Green, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She explained that “those of us who work in the health disparities space are saddened but not surprised at the race-based disparities that the COVID-19 crisis has brought to light.”

Green is an assistant professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology. She also spoke about what is needed to correct racial bias in the COVID-19 response.

She outlined a number of steps that individuals can take to start to countering existing equalities, including the following: 

“Lean on your elected officials to collect robust and accurate data and to adopt relief packages that protect vulnerable workers in the food, beauty, and other relevant industries. Demand that the federal government investigate and penalize violations of civil rights laws.”

Read the full interview here.

06/01/2020 10:24 GMT — Impact of COVID-19 on US hospitals worse than predicted

According to a recent study that looked at data from California and Washington state, early predictions underestimated how long patients with COVID-19 would need to stay in the hospital and how many would require intensive care. The findings appear in the BMJ.

Scientists based their early estimates on data from China, but the virus’ spread and the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare facilities varies from location to location. 

For instance, the researchers found that in China, the average hospital stay among those who died was 7.5 days, but in the U.S., the average stay was 11 days for survivors and 15 days for those who died.

Read our full coverage of the research here.

06/01/2020 10:19 GMT — Russia approve antiviral to treat COVID-19 

Russia’s health ministry has approved an antiviral drug for the treatment of COVID-19. The drug, called avifavir, is a generic version of the flu drug Avigan.

According to the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev, a trial involving 330 participants found that “after 4 days, 65% of patients did not have the virus.”

The RDIF has a 50% share in ChemRar, the company that manufactures avifavir and funded the trials. The same drug is undergoing trials in Japan, backed by $128 million in government funding. Japan has not yet approved it for use.

Read more about avifavir here.

05/29/2020 15:09 GMT — MNT video update: COVID-19 and social inequalities

05/29/2020 09:27 GMT — Study looks at mental health outcomes for Italian healthcare workers

A research letter, which appears in JAMA Network Open, investigates mental health outcomes among healthcare workers in Italy who are involved in the COVID-19 response. Almost half reported post-traumatic stress symptoms, and nearly 1 in 4 reported symptoms of depression.

The authors find a “substantial proportion of mental health issues, particularly among young women and frontline [healthcare workers].”

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study, gathering data using an online questionnaire from March 27 to March 31. In total, 1,379 participants enrolled.

The questionnaire collected information about the participants’ jobs and general demographics. It also asked whether they knew colleagues who had developed the infection and whether they worked directly with COVID-19 patients.

Almost half of the respondents (49.38%) reported post-traumatic stress symptoms; 24.73% reported symptoms of depression, and 19.80% reported symptoms of anxiety. The authors conclude:

“Our results warrant further monitoring and specific interventions for [healthcare workers] throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent long-term mental health-related disabilities.”

Read the full research letter here.

05/29/2020 08:59 GMT — Combination drug lopinavir-ritonavir shows no benefit

A recent study that appears in The New England Journal of Medicine concludes that the HIV combination drug lopinavir-ritonavir does not benefit hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19 compared with standard care.

Researchers recruited 199 patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Of these individuals, 100 received standard care, and 99 received standard care plus lopinavir-ritonavir twice each day for 14 days.

The authors note that adverse gastrointestinal events were more common in the patients who had lopinavir-ritonavir, but that serious adverse events were more common in the standard care group. A total of 13 patients stopped lopinavir-ritonavir treatment early due to adverse events.

Overall, the authors conclude: “In hospitalized adult patients with severe COVID-19, no benefit was observed with lopinavir-ritonavir treatment beyond standard care.”

Read the full study here.

05/28/2020 14:29 GMT — Misinformation, conspiracy theories, and the new coronavirus

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rumor mills have been rife with inaccurate information about the new coronavirus. 

Inaccurate information can easily undermine public health campaigns, potentially putting lives at risk, and the COVID-19 pandemic has given researchers plenty of study material. 

But demand for accurately fact-checked content is rising, and the pressure on social media companies to curb the spread of misinformation continues.

Read more on this story here.

05/28/2020 11:28 GMT — Households with children are disproportionately affected by the pandemic

A weekly survey by the United States Census Bureau highlights that adults living with children are more likely to report that they sometimes do not have enough to eat and have worries about paying their rent or mortgage. 

In households with children under 18 years of age, 55% percent saw at least one adult out of employment since the pandemic started.

Across all households, the survey showed that 48.5% of adult respondents had lost their employment in the wake of the pandemic and that 10.7% of all households were struggling to get enough food sometimes or often. In total, 113,000 households responded to the latest weekly survey.

Read more here.

05/28/2020 09:41 GMT — The number of COVID-19 deaths in the US has passed 100,000

05/28/2020 09:34 GMT — Researchers report phase I coronavirus vaccine trial results

The first human clinical trial testing a vaccine against the new coronavirus began in March. The team now reports that the vaccine is safe and possibly effective. 

The vaccine uses a common virus with proteins from SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus, attached to it. This means that it cannot cause COVID-19 but hopefully prompts the immune system to develop long-term immunity to the virus.

The objective of a phase I clinical trial is to show that a candidate vaccine is safe and well tolerated. 

Many of the volunteers developed some side effects, the authors explain, but these did not not last very long and were mild in most cases.

Read more about the vaccine here

05/27/2020 17:21 GMT — Global number of COVID-19 deaths has passed 350,000

05/27/2020 15:14 GMT — Popular COVID-19 YouTube videos contain misinformation

Recent research suggests that 1 in 4 of the most viewed YouTube videos discussing the new coronavirus contain misleading or inaccurate information.

The study authors looked at COVID-19-related YouTube videos that viewers watched on March 21, 2020, and analyzed how many of these were accurate or inaccurate. 

Of the 69 videos that the team assessed, 19 contained false or misleading information.

Read the full story here

05/27/2020 11:07 GMT — COVID-19 numbers continue to rise amid easing of lockdowns

South Korea has reported 40 new cases in the county’s biggest rise in almost 50 days. India has also seen a new daily record. While the United States and Europe are slowly emerging from lockdowns, worldwide, the pandemic is far from over.   

The number of cases is rising sharply in Central and South America, with warnings of healthcare systems becoming overwhelmed. 

As the death toll in the U.S. nears 100,000, local lockdowns are beginning to ease. Nevada casinos are due to open on June 4, while the New York stock exchange trading floor is once again open after nearly 2 months of closure. 

Read more about the developments around the world here.

05/27/2020 10:34 GMT — MNT video update: Convalescent plasma therapy

05/27/2020 10:23 GMT — How useful are coronavirus antibody tests?

In a Special Feature article, we examine how coronavirus antibody test work, why they are different to antigen tests, and why expert opinion about their value is mixed. 

Antibody tests show if someone previously had SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus. Some scientists and public health officials argue that knowing who has already had the virus can help them build a more detailed picture of the spread and dynamics of the pandemic. Others disagree.

Several different tests are available, but questions over their accuracy remain. 

Read the full feature here

05/27/2020 10:08 GMT — Are smokers more susceptible to COVID-19?

New research indicates that people who smoke have more angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors in their lungs, which the new coronavirus uses to infect host cells. 

As they report in Developmental Cell, researchers from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in New York, analyzed data from other studies and found that smoking increases the expression of ACE2 receptors in rodents and humans. 

But evidence of whether more people who smoke develop COVID-19 has, so far, been mixed. Some studies suggest that heavy smokers are more likely to have severe COVID-19, while others say that nicotine protects against infection with the new coronavirus.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

05/26/2020 15:15 GMT — Is there more than one strain of the new coronavirus?

Several researchers have proposed that mutations have led to changes in how infectious and deadly the new coronavirus is, prompting suggestions that there could be several strains. But expert opinion is divided. 

Viruses like the new coronavirus are exceptionally prone to mutations, which can result in changes to how a virus behaves. 

In a Special Feature, MNT explore how and why viruses mutate, what evidence underpins the claims that there are several SARS-CoV-2 strains, and why some experts are calling for caution.

Read the full feature here.

05/26/2020 15:11 GMT — Could mouthwash reduce the spread of the new coronavirus?

Researchers from Cardiff University, in the United Kingdom, along with international collaborators, recently suggested that mouthwash could, in theory, inactivate the new coronavirus. They call for more research.

Writing in the journal Function, the team reviewed previous studies that had investigated how lower-alcohol formulations, such as mouthwashes, affect viruses.

The researchers suggest that further research would strengthen their, as of yet, theoretical findings.

Read our full coverage here.

05/26/2020 11:39 GMT — WHO pause hydroxychloroquine trial to review safety data

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced a temporary pause on testing hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 amid serious safety concerns. 

A recent study in The Lancet showed that patients taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, with or without an antibiotic, were more likely to experience heart problems and die than those who did not receive the drugs. 

The WHO are testing the drugs as part of their Solidarity Trial, which is investigating four drugs and drug combinations as possible treatments for COVID-19. All other arms of the trial will continue while the organization’s Data Safety Monitoring Board are reviewing the safety data.

Read the full statement here

05/26/2020 10:21 GMT — Using convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19

The blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 has antibodies that some doctors are using to treat others with the disease. In a Special Feature, MNT spoke to one of the experts who first suggested this approach. 

Dr. Arturo Casadevall, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, authored a viewpoint paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation in March, suggesting the use of passive antibody therapy as a treatment for COVID-19. 

He told MNT that nearly 12,000 people in the United States have, so far, received convalescent plasma, indicating that the treatment is safe. 

Dr. Casadevall also said that he and colleagues were currently analyzing data to assess the efficiency of this method. “We are hopeful,” he said.

Read the full article here.

05/22/2020 14:58 GMT — New study links hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to increased risk of in-hospital death

A recent study investigates whether hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine might help treat COVID-19. The authors conclude that neither drug, taken alone or with a macrolide antibiotic, improves outcomes. Conversely, they show that the drug regimens are associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias.

The study used data from 96,032 individuals who received hospital treatment for COVID-19. After controlling for a range of variables — including, age, sex, diabetes, existing lung disease, and smoking habits — the researchers found that each of the drug regimens were “independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality.”

In the paper, which appears in The Lancet, the authors conclude, “These findings suggest that these drug regimens should not be used outside of clinical trials and urgent confirmation from randomized clinical trials is needed.” 

Read the full study here.

05/22/2020 14:17 GMT — MNT video update: COVID-19 and older adults

05/22/2020 10:10 GMT — New York ‘over the mountain’

In New York state, the daily number of new hospitalizations related to COVID-19 is lower than before lockdown began. According to the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, the 3-day rolling average for new coronavirus hospitalizations was 246 on Wednesday, which is roughly half the level reported on March 20.

In a recent briefing, Cuomo said: “It is actually lower than we were when this first started. We got through it. We got over the mountain.” 

However, he also explained that he does not plan on accelerating the reopening of New York City. “You don’t reopen until you can reopen safely. Because the last thing we want is to go back to where we were on the other side of the mountain,” explains Cuomo.

Read more about the situation in New York here.

05/22/2020 09:13 GMT — Study investigates relationship between diabetes and in-hospital COVID-19 deaths

A new study finds that one-third of deaths in hospitals in England related to COVID-19 are individuals with diabetes. The authors conclude that type 1 and type 2 diabetes are associated with an increased risk of coronavirus-related in-hospital death.

The study is the largest COVID-19 related study to date. In their analysis, the scientists also identified relationships between in-hospital deaths and a number of other factors, including ethnicity, age, and deprivation. For instance, they explain that “[T]here is a 700-fold difference in risk between those aged under 40 compared to those over 80.”

Find our full coverage of the study here

05/21/2020 16:18 GMT — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has passed 5 million

05/21/2020 09:38 GMT — ‘We still have a long way to go,’ explains WHO

05/21/2020 09:21 GMT — Spain extends lockdown

Yesterday, the Spanish government voted to extend their lockdown for a further 2 weeks. Currently, Spain has registered more than 232,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 28,000 deaths — the fifth highest globally.

Parliament approved the extension by a relatively narrow margin, with 177 votes to 161, and 11 abstentions.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said: “The path we are on is the only one that can possibly beat the virus. Thanks to all the parliament members who have supported the state of emergency because with their vote, they have saved thousands of lives.”

Read more about the situation in Spain here.

05/21/2020 09:12 GMT — China’s changes to wildlife trade fall short

Scientists believe that the COVID-19 pandemic began in the wet markets of Wuhan, China. In late January, Beijing imposed a temporary ban on the wildlife trade in response. Parliament is likely to make this ban permanent, but the fur and traditional medicine trades may be untouched.

On Friday, as the national session of parliament begins, they are likely to discuss the future of the wildlife trade in China. Some provinces, including Hunan and Jiangxi, will release captive animals into the wild, where possible. These regions plan to pay breeders and hunters to switch to other professions.

However, the lucrative fur trade remains untouched. Similarly, traders can continue working if researchers use their animals for scientific or medical purposes. 

According to Peter Li, a policy specialist with animal rights group Humane Society International, “There is nothing to stop farmers continuing business as usual but pivoting to selling their farmed wild animals for traditional Chinese medicine instead.”

Read our feature on why infections from animals are so dangerous to humans here

05/21/2020 09:06 GMT — Black people four times as likely to test positive for COVID-19

According to a study that took place in the United Kingdom, black people are four times as likely as white people to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. The authors published their results in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The researchers took data from 500 doctor’s offices in the U.K. The data came from 587 people who tested positive for the virus and 3,215 who tested negative. 

The proportion of black people who tested positive was 62.1% compared with 15.5% of white people. The results remained significant, even after controlling for hypertension and diabetes, both of which are more prevalent among black people.

In their paper, the authors explain, “Other socioeconomic factors that we did not measure, such as employment in high risk positions, education, income, and structural barriers to healthcare, might have contributed to this association and should be urgently explored.”

Read our full coverage here.

05/20/2020 10:19 GMT — US president is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19

United States President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he is taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19.

There is currently no scientific evidence that the drug is effective in preventing or treating the disease, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have warned that it can cause serious side effects.

In a press briefing, Trump explained that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement for “about a week and a half.” The FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization on March 28, 2020 for physicians to use hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products to treat adults and adolescents with COVID-19 in situations when a clinical trial was not an option.

On April 24, the FDA followed up with a statement that these drugs were neither safe nor effective in treating or preventing COVID-19 at this point. They emphasized that they were investigating reports of some people developing serious heart rhythm problems due to taking the drugs. 

Read more here.

05/20/2020 08:56 GMT — Study investigates cardiovascular impact of COVID-19

A recent review, which appears in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, concludes that a significant number of people who develop COVID-19 may experience serious cardiovascular complications.

To reach this conclusion, the authors assessed evidence from 45 relevant studies. From this previous research, the authors identified associations between COVID-19 and heart attacks, myocardial injury, abnormal heartbeats, acute heart failure, and venous thromboembolism, which is when blood clots form in veins.

Co-author Dr. William Brady, writes, “As we encounter more and more patients with COVID-19-related illness, we are increasing our understanding of its impact on the body in general and the cardiovascular system in particular. The rate of learning on this area is amazingly rapid. Information continues to change weekly, if not daily.”

Read our full coverage here

05/20/2020 08:53 GMT — Brazil’s case numbers surge

To date, Brazil has reported the third highest number of COVID-19 cases globally. Yesterday, Brazil also registered its highest death toll from COVID-19 with a total of 1,179 deaths. This is an increase of more than 25% on the previous high of 881, which occurred on May 12.

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, who opposed restrictions in movement over fears for economic damage, has faced criticism over his handling of the pandemic.

Despite evidence to the contrary, Bolsonaro plans to issue guidelines recommending that people take the antimalarial drug chloroquine. Two health ministers who are trained medical doctors have already resigned in response to Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.

Find more about Brazil’s situation here.

05/19/2020 14:47 GMT — The UK recognizes loss of smell or taste as a symptom of COVID-19

Yesterday, the United Kingdom’s chief medical officers announced that anosmia, the loss of smell or taste, may be a symptom of COVID-19. They recommend that anyone with anosmia, a new, continual cough, or a fever self-isolates.

The announcement comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, and the World Health Organization added anosmia to their list of COVID-19 symptoms in the past few weeks.

Research has increasingly indicated that a significant proportion of people with COVID-19 experience anosmia. 

Read more here.

05/19/2020 14:04 GMT — In the US, the number of confirmed deaths has now passed 90,000

05/19/2020 09:43 GMT — Vaccine shows promise in small trial

Researchers investigating an experimental COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc. — the first to undergo testing in humans — released their findings today. A small trial involving just eight healthy adults produced encouraging results. The vaccine appears to be safe, and the participants generated antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

The results are preliminary, though. Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, explains: “These are significant findings but it is a Phase I clinical trial that only included eight people. It was designed for safety, not for efficacy.”

Although the results are interesting, there are many hurdles to jump before before researchers can prove that the vaccine is safe and effective for the population at large.

More detail on the experimental vaccine is available here.

05/19/2020 09:38 GMT — COVID-19: The mental health impact on people of color and minority groups

In a recent Special Feature, Medical News Today has investigated how people of color, migrants, and individuals of various ethnic backgrounds may face a disproportionate mental health impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the author of the feature explains, “Although the pandemic is mentally and emotionally affecting many people all over the world, past evidence suggests that it may affect certain communities more than others — particularly because they have reduced access to mental health services and other healthcare resources.”

Read the full feature here.

05/19/2020 08:57 GMT — MNT video update: Hope behind the headlines

05/18/2020 15:02 GMT — Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil has now surpassed Spain and Italy

05/18/2020 10:34 GMT — Japan contributes $2.7 million to COVID-19 response in the Americas

On Friday, the government of Japan agreed to contribute $2.7 million to nine countries in the Americas. The money will assist the response of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization’s priorities are to detect and monitor cases and control outbreaks.

The countries to benefit from the donation are Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. 

A press release from PAHO explains that “The project also aims to augment their national health systems’ ability to care for COVID-19 patients and protect vulnerable individuals, and to ensure that reliable public health information on the COVID-19 outbreak and protective measures is made available to people involved in the response, as well as [to] the general population.”

The head of PAHO’s Health Emergencies Department, Dr. Ciro Ugarte, writes, “We are grateful to the government of Japan for helping our countries combat the serious COVID-19 pandemic challenges they are facing.”

Find the PAHO press release here.

05/18/2020 09:50 GMT — Addressing PTSD in healthcare workers

A recent feature that MNT published investigates how healthcare staff can prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article includes an interview with Dr. Patricia Watson from the National Center for PTSD, which is part of the Department of Veteran Affairs. 

Dr. Watson predicts that the incidence of PTSD is likely to rise, as many healthcare professionals were already working in pressured and challenging situations, and the pandemic has only worsened these conditions. However, she also pointed to a “shared sense of reality around the world” as having a protective effect.

The article also talks about The Field Guide to Self-Care, which the British charity Help for Heroes designed. The charity describe the guide as “a resource of tips and tools our recovery teams deliver to veterans who have experienced traumatic events or have been affected by working in high intensity situations.”

Find the full feature on COVID-19 and PTSD here.

05/18/2020 09:09 GMT — How has COVID-19 affected healthcare, globally?

In a recent Special Feature, Medical News Today have investigated how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected primary healthcare access in various countries around the world. The article takes information from scientific research, interviews with those affected, and experts in the field.

As the author of the feature explains, “Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, but the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on healthcare systems everywhere has, in turn, affected many people’s primary care provision.”

Read the feature here.

05/15/2020 17:42 GMT — MNT video update

05/15/2020 14:23 GMT — Global number of deaths from COVID-19 has passed 300,000

05/15/2020 09:51 GMT — Case study documents the effects of drinking alcohol-based hand disinfectant

This week, the journal Histopathology published the case study of a female who consumed alcohol-based hand disinfectant to protect herself from SARS-CoV-2. The authors document the resulting damage to her esophagus and bowel.

The 41-year-old female consumed 10 milliliters of alcohol-based hand disinfectant every day for 3 weeks. She presented to the emergency department with vomiting and abdominal pain that had persisted for 2 days.

The authors carried out an endoscopy and found “superficial mucosal damage in the oesophagus, slightly increased mucosal redness in the stomach, and severely injured small bowel mucosa.”

The authors conclude: “[R]epetitive sub-lethal intentional ingestion of chemicals in an attempt to ‘disinfect’ from COVID-19 leads to severe corrosive damage of esophageal, gastric, and small intestinal mucosa. This treatment, even when considered by governmental authorities, has not only no proven anti-viral effect, it conversely implies major health risks.”

Read our coronavirus myth busting article here.

05/15/2020 08:38 GMT — Coronavirus bowel imaging study implicates blood clots

The authors of a recent imaging study conclude that, in people with severe cases of COVID-19, blood clots in small arteries may starve bowel tissue of oxygen. This might help explain why people with COVID-19 often experience gastrointestinal symptoms.

The virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, uses a cell surface receptor protein called angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to gain entry to cells. ACE2 is present in high concentrations on cells that line the small intestine and blood vessels.

The researchers carried out CT scans on 42 people with COVID-19 who reported gastrointestinal symptoms. First author Dr. Rajesh Bhayana explains:

“Some findings were typical of bowel ischemia, or dying bowel, and in those who had surgery, we saw small vessel clots beside areas of dead bowel. Patients in [intensive care] can have bowel ischemia for other reasons, but we know COVID-19 can lead to clotting and small vessel injury, so [the] bowel might also be affected by this.”

The authors of the study call for more research to determine whether the virus plays a direct role in damage to the bowel as a result of blood clots.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

05/15/2020 08:13 GMT — Cats can pass on the new coronavirus to other cats

In a letter to the editor published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a group of researchers from the U.S. and Japan present data indicating that cats are able to pass on the new coronavirus to other cats. None of the cats showed any symptoms.

For this study, the researchers inoculated three cats with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and housed them separately. Then, they introduced a cat that did not have the virus into each of the three cages.

Within 3 days, the team could detect the virus in nasal swabs from the cats who had been inoculated. All three of the uninfected cats had positive nasal swabs within 6 days. 

“Given the need to stop the [COVID-19] pandemic through various mechanisms, including breaking transmission chains, a better understanding of the role cats may play in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans is needed,” the authors write. 

Read more here

05/14/2020 10:13 GMT — ‘This virus may never go away’

At a briefing yesterday, World Health Organization (WHO) representatives explained that COVID-19 “may never go away,” and may become endemic. They explained that there is still no way to determine how long the virus might circulate and that a “massive effort” is required to tackle it. 

At the online briefing, WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan said, “I think it is important we are realistic, and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear. I think there are no promises in this, and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”

Currently, there are more than 100 vaccine candidates, which provides some hope. However, Ryan reminds us that other diseases, such as measles, already have a vaccine, but they have not disappeared.

As WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove says, “We need to get into the mindset that it is going to take some time to come out of this pandemic.”

More about the WHO briefing here.

05/14/2020 09:21 GMT — Antibody test approved for use in the United Kingdom

Last night, Public Health England announced that it had approved an antibody test for use in the U.K. Antibody tests can identify whether an individual has ever had COVID-19. The test was designed by the pharmaceutical company Roche.

According to Roche, the test has a “specificity greater than 99.8%“, which means that it won’t mistake similar coronaviruses for SARS-CoV-2, and a “sensitivity of 100%“, meaning that it will detect any antibodies that are present. 

Roche explain that the test can produce results in around 18 minutes and that 300 tests could be processed per hour.

Prof. John Newton, national coordinator of the U.K. coronavirus testing program, explains: “This is a very positive development because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection. This, in turn, may indicate some immunity to future infection, although the extent to which the presence of antibodies indicates immunity remains unclear.”

Read more here.

05/14/2020 09:09 GMT — Protein may help predict severity of COVID-19

A new study concludes that high levels of a particular protein in the blood of a person with COVID-19 may predict disease severity. The findings, which appear in the journal Critical Care, might help doctors identify people who are more likely to need intensive care support.

Currently, there is no way to reliably estimate how any given case of COVID-19 will progress. Finding ways to predict severity could help identify those who can safely manage the disease at home, thereby freeing up much-needed hospital beds.

The protein in question is called soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR). The researchers found that COVID-19 patients who had higher levels of suPAR in their blood needed intubation more quickly than those with lower levels.

However, the study only included data from 72 patients, so scientists will need to confirm the research in larger trials.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

05/13/2020 13:15 GMT — Who is most at risk of death from COVID-19? 

There is already evidence supporting age and certain underlying health conditions as risk factors. A new study shows that belonging to an ethnic minority or a poorer socioeconomic background can also increase a person’s risk. 

The research, which a team from the University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and other institutions in the United Kingdom led, has not yet undergone peer review.

For their study, the investigators looked at the medical records of 17,425,445 people in the U.K., of whom 5,683 died from COVID-19 between February 1 and April 21. 

The results indicated that being male, being older, or having uncontrolled diabetes or severe asthma puts a person at greater risk of COVID-19 death than the rest of the population. 

Asian and black people, as well as those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds, also had a significantly higher risk, which the team could not link to underlying health conditions. 

Read our coverage of the research here

05/13/2020 09:18 GMT — Top infectious disease expert warns against easing restrictions too soon

Yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, spoke at a  Senate Committee hearing. He outlined the risks of reopening the economy too soon, warning that lifting stay-at-home measures prematurely could “trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control.”

As some states begin lifting their lockdowns, Fauci told the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions that “even under the best of circumstances, when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases appear.” 

He also warned that if social measures are rolled back too quickly, it will cause “some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.”

Read more about the committee meeting here.

05/13/2020 09:13 GMT — Putin’s spokesman tests positive for SARS-CoV-2

On Tuesday, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, announced that he had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. He becomes the fifth senior Russian official to test positive for the virus.

According to Peskov, he last met Putin face-to-face more than 1 month ago. Putin is currently working remotely from his home outside of Moscow.

Russia has reported more than 232,000 cases of COVID-19, which is the second highest after the United States. However, they have one of the lowest mortality rates, with just 2,116 deaths.

Russian officials believe the high number of cases and low mortality rate are due to extensive testing; they claim to have carried out more than 5.8 million tests to date.

Read more about the situation in Russia here.

05/13/2020 09:07 GMT — 3-drug combo shows promise

According to a recent phase II clinical trial, in combination with standard treatment, a three-drug combination helps treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. The encouraging results appear in The Lancet.

The researchers tested a combination of three antiviral drugs: interferon beta-1b, lopinavir-ritonavir, and ribavirin. Compared with individuals who did not receive the three drugs, those who took the combination experienced relief from symptoms and shorter hospital stays.

Lead researcher Prof. Kwok-Yung Yuen from the University of Hong Kong says: “Our trial demonstrates that early treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 with a triple combination of antiviral drugs may rapidly suppress the amount of virus in a patient’s body, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk to healthcare workers by reducing the duration and quantity of viral shedding (when the virus is detectable and potentially transmissible).”

Find our full coverage of the study here.

05/12/2020 14:32 GMT — MNT video update: How are people coping?

05/12/2020 14:23 GMT — Study concludes that ‘Summer is not going to make this go away’

A recent study investigates how various factors influence the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors found that public health measures significantly slow progress but that increased temperatures do not have an impact.

The scientists took information from 144 geopolitical locations, which included 375,609 cases of COVID-19. They found that restrictions on mass gatherings, school closures, and physical distancing measures slowed the pandemic. Temperature and humidity, however, did not appear to make a significant difference.

One of the authors, Prof. Dionne Gesink, says: “Summer is not going to make this go away. It’s important people know that. On the other hand, the more public health interventions an area had in place, the bigger the impact on slowing the epidemic growth. These public health interventions are really important because they’re the only thing working right now to slow the epidemic.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

05/12/2020 14:14 GMT — Global number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 4,197,142

05/12/2020 11:29 GMT —  WHO director-general speaks about potential vaccines

In a video briefing yesterday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that there are currently seven or eight top candidates for vaccines against COVID-19, out of more than 100 possible options.

He explained that the “WHO has been working with thousands of researchers all over the world to accelerate and track vaccine development, from developing animal models to clinical trial designs and everything in between.”

As COVID-19 teaches us “painful lessons,” Dr. Tedros hopes that it will help lay the foundations for a fairer, healthier world in the future:

“The world spends around $7.5 trillion on health each year — almost 10% of global GDP. But the best investments are in promoting health and in preventing disease at the primary healthcare level, which will save lives and save money.”

Read more about the address here.

05/29/2020 10:26 GMT — Study investigates hospitalized COVID-19 patients with diabetes

A study, which appears in the journal Diabetologia, investigates “features associated with disease severity and mortality risk in people with diabetes [who are] hospitalized for COVID-19.” The researchers found that within 7 days of hospital admission, 1 in 10 people in this group died and 1 in 5 were intubated and received mechanical ventilation.

The study included data from 1,317 patients in 53 French hospitals. The analysis showed that men accounted for 65% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients with diabetes. Also, the presence of diabetes-related complications and older age increased the risk of death.

The authors conclude that in people with diabetes, “The risk factors for severe forms of COVID-19 are identical to those found in the general population: age and BMI.”

Find the full study here.

05/12/2020 10:12 GMT — CRISPR test for SARS-CoV-2 approved for use

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the use of a test for SARS-CoV-2 based on CRISPR technology. The FDA hope that the new kit will boost testing numbers and help reduce the backlog.

The CRISPR-based diagnostic kit can detect genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in swabs from the mouth, throat, or nose. Once detected, a CRISPR enzyme produces a fluorescent glow.

According to the company that developed it — Sherlock Biosciences — the test can return a result within 1 hour.

Find more information on the test here.

05/11/2020 13:49 GMT — MNT readers’ top coping strategies, and why they work

Restrictive measures aimed at curbing the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the lives of people all over the world. In a Special Feature, we asked our readers and contributors to share their best coping strategies.

Indoor or outdoor exercise, yoga, meditation, and forms of prayer were some things that people have found helpful, and research supports associations between these types of activities and overall health. 

Others told us that spending time outside, playing video or board games, and learning new skills topped their lists. 

Perhaps the most challenging restriction has been physical distancing. Almost everyone reaching out to MNT said that they cope by using phone and video calls to stay in touch with family and friends. 

Research suggests that long, deep conversations help us feel more connected and can enhance our sense of well-being.

Read the full article here.

05/11/2020 13:31 GMT — Russia now has the third highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases

05/11/2020 09:26 GMT — South Korea braces for second wave

On Sunday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 34 new cases of COVID-19. This is the highest daily count in more than 1 month, and President Moon Jae-in has raised concerns about a second wave. The outbreak centered in nightclubs.

In response, authorities have temporarily closed nightly entertainment venues in the capital, Seoul. The outbreak comes as South Korea has slowly eased some physical distancing measures.

 In a televised speech, the president said: “We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention. We are in a prolonged war. I ask everyone to comply with safety precautions and rules until the situation is over, even after resuming daily lives.”

More on the situation in South Korea here.

05/11/2020 09:02 GMT — Wuhan, China reports new COVID-19 cluster

As China begins to ease restrictions, officials release a report describing a cluster of five new cases in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. All of the affected individuals live in the same residential compound.

One of the new cases is the wife of an individual who recently became the city’s first confirmed case in more than 1 month. In a statement, the Wuhan health authority writes:

“At present, the task of epidemic prevention and control in the city is still very heavy. We must resolutely contain the risk of a rebound.” 

Although the number of new cases in China remains low, as venues begin to reopen and people start returning to work, Chinese officials remain cautious.

Read more here.

05/08/2020 19:22 GMT — MNT’s video update

05/07/2020 14:35 GMT — A new antibody stops coronavirus infection in laboratory studies

Researchers in The Netherlands have created an antibody that stops infection with the new coronavirus in a cell culture model. The team built on their previous work with the coronavirus that causes SARS. 

Appearing in Nature Communications, the results are the work of a collaboration that involves Utrecht University, the Erasmus Medical Center, and the pharmaceutical company, Harbour BioMed.

Antibodies from convalescent plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 are already under investigation as a treatment. 

Read our article about the research here.

05/07/2020 13:00 GMT — New coronavirus may spread through wastewater, scientists warn

Researchers at the University of Stirling, in the United Kingdom, warn that sewage water may be able to transmit the new coronavirus.

Prof. Richard Quilliam and colleagues have published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal  Environment InternationalTheir study builds on previous evidence that SARS-CoV-2 may spread through a fecal-oral route, in addition to person-to-person transmission.

“It has recently been confirmed that the virus can also be found in human feces — up to 33 days after the patient has tested negative for the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19,” explains Prof. Quilliam.

“It is not yet known whether the virus can be transmitted via the fecal-oral route. However, we know that viral shedding from the digestive system can last longer than shedding from the respiratory tract. Therefore, this could be an important […] pathway for increased exposure.”

As a result, the researchers call for urgent tests. “The risks associated with sewage loading during the remainder of the COVID-19 outbreak need to be rapidly quantified to allow wastewater managers to act quickly and put in place control measures to decrease human exposure to this potentially infectious material,” says Prof. Quilliam.

Read the full story here.

05/07/2020 12:00 GMT — Alcohol and marijuana use on the rise during the pandemic, survey shows

A new survey, carried out by scientists at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, sought to assess the impact of the current pandemic on people’s mental health and well-being. 

The results indicated that depression and anxiety were common among the respondents — and that alcohol and marijuana use were on the rise as ways of coping with these issues. 

Specifically, 22% of the respondents reported using alcohol more than usual to cope, and 14% said that they used marijuana more.

Read our full coverage of the survey here.

05/06/2020 14:15 GMT — Obesity may put people at a ‘very high risk’ of severe COVID-19
A new review summarizes the current information on the link between obesity and COVID-19 and finds that obesity does have an association with a higher risk of severe symptoms and complications of COVID-19, independent of other underlying conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.

The lead author of the review, Dr. Norbert Stefan, told Medical News Today: “We concluded that obesity may put people infected with the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) at a very high risk for a more severe COVID-19 illness and possibly risk of death.”

Read our full coverage of the study here

05/06/2020 13:00 GMT — UK now has the highest number of deaths in Europe, overtaking Italy

05/06/2020 09:44 GMT — Where does coronavirus misinformation come from?

A study of data from more than 1,000 respondents in the U.S. identified links between a person’s beliefs about the new coronavirus and the source of their news. 

Conservative outlets, social media, and online news aggregators are more likely to be the source of misinformation, the researchers found.

In the April 2020 edition of the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, the team reported that 1 in 5 respondents said that taking vitamin C could probably or definitely prevent infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

They also found that more than 1 in 5 participants considered it either probably or definitely true that the Chinese government had developed the new coronavirus as a bioweapon.

Respondents who cited conservative media as their source of news were more likely to hold inaccurate opinions about SARS-CoV-2 and to believe conspiracy theories.

Respondents who relied on social media believed that the threat of the new coronavirus was a politically motivated hoax from the CDC, that the Chinese government had deliberately created the virus, and that vitamin C was the cure.

 Participants who used web news aggregators as their main source of information were unconvinced that hand washing had value and that it was worth staying away from individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.

Read our article on the study here.

05/06/2020 09:31 GMT — What MNT’s experts want you to know 

At the end of March, we asked our medical experts what they wished the public knew about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. The answers were insightful. Now, as we move into May and the pandemic evolves, we ask them again. 

Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, an experienced physician assistant, explained that the majority of people who have a SARS-CoV-2 infection have a mild case of COVID-19 or no symptoms at all. Yet she urged against complacency. “Now is not the time to let your guard down. Don’t be afraid, but be smart and be vigilant,” she says. 

Dr. Alex Klein, a specialist in psychiatry, suggested that we shift our expectations and go easy on ourselves. He expressed worries about the long-term consequences for mental health.

“I’m concerned there will be a lot of delayed-onset [post-traumatic stress disorder] or PTSD-like symptoms, increased anxiety, and [obsessive-compulsive disorder],” he said.”

Read the full article here

05/05/2020 18:16 GMT — MNT’s video update

05/05/2020 15:17 GMT — Study finds no link between high blood pressure drugs and COVID-19 risk

The question of whether blood pressure medication raises the risk of COVID-19 or of developing a more severe form of the disease has been preoccupying researchers in recent months. 

Now, investigators from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine in New York City, together with other institutions, have carried out a study to settle the matter.

The scientists looked at angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and thiazide diuretics, and concluded that there was “no association between any single [antihypertensive] medication class and an increased likelihood of a positive [COVID-19] test.” 

The study did not find an association with a higher risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, either. “Our findings should reassure the medical community and patients,” says lead investigator Dr. Harmony Reynolds.

Read our full coverage here.

05/05/2020 15:15 GMT — Total number of confirmed US cases is now 1,180,634

05/05/2020 12:01 GMT — NIAID director says coronavirus was not made in a lab

As the debate about the origins of the new coronavirus continues, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made his opinion clear: SARS-CoV-2 was not created in a laboratory. 

“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this [virus] could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated — the way the mutations have naturally evolved,” Dr. Fauci told National Geographic in an interview. “A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it evolved in nature and then jumped species.”

He also dismissed claims that the researchers found the virus in an animal, then took it to a lab and subsequently released it, whether by accident or deliberately. 

“But that means it was in the wild to begin with,” Dr. Fauci explained. “That’s why I don’t get what they’re talking about [and] why I don’t spend a lot of time going in on this circular argument.”

Read the full interview here.

05/05/2020 10:59 GMT — ‘COVID toe’ and other skin symptoms

Blisters, rashes, and bumps are the latest symptoms that doctors are describing in people with COVID-19. Writing in the British Journal of Dermatology, a team of dermatologists from Spain collected data on 375 cases from across the country and compiled a list of the five most common skin manifestations. 

Skin rashes are, in fact, a common signof viral infections, particularly in children. 

The new study lists the following five clinical patterns: 

  • Small, flat, raised bumps called maculopapules: 47%
  • Chilblain-like lesions around the hands and feet, prominent in younger patients, which some people call ‘COVID toe’: 19%
  • Rash on the body or hands: 19%
  • Small blisters on the trunk and limbs: 9%
  • Necrosis: 6%

All of the patients that the team included in the study were in a hospital and had respiratory symptoms. 

“It is unusual, from our previous experience with cutaneous manifestations of viral diseases, that a single virus can lead to several different clinical patterns, especially as different patterns do not coexist on the same patient,” the authors comment in the paper. 

The researchers note that it is unclear if the new coronavirus causes the skin manifestations or if they are the result of a coinfection with a different virus. 

“In terms of arising suspicion of COVID-19, we feel that pseudo-chilblain and [blisters on the trunk or limbs] may be useful as indicators of disease,” they conclude in the paper. 

Read more about the study here.

05/04/2020 15:30 GMT — First drug to treat COVID-19 gets emergency approval from the FDA

The FDA issued an emergency authorization for the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat “severe” forms of COVID-19.

According to the FDA, patients with “severe disease” are those with “low blood oxygen levels or needing oxygen therapy or more intensive breathing support, such as a mechanical ventilator.”

Penny Ward, Visiting Professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, U.K., comments on the development, along with other experts.

She explains, “The FDA approved this product on the basis [of its] proven in vitro antiviral effect against SARS-CoV-2, animal data documenting in vivo efficacy against COVID-19 infection, and a clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health in which receipt of remdesivir decreased the time taken to recover from COVID-19 and reduced mortality by ~30%.”

However, experts also caution that the use and effectiveness of remdesivir are limited. 

05/04/2020 14:00 GMT — COVID-19 still a ‘public health emergency of international concern,’ Emergency Committee tells WHO

The WHO director-general convened the third meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, April 30.

The committee unanimously agreed that COVID-19 still represents a “public health emergency of international concern” and issued a list of guidelines for the WHO and other parties and states. 

The recommendations for the WHO included working with “fragile states and vulnerable countries” that need additional support and liaising with key organizations to find the animal origin of the virus and identify the route of transmission to humans. 

The committee also recommended that the WHO focus on supporting countries in an effort to manage the “unintended consequences of public health measures” such as the spike in gender-based violence and child neglect. 

Furthermore, the committee advised the WHO to support governments in continuing to provide essential health services throughout the COVID-19 response period, which is likely to extend. These services include, but are not limited to, vaccination, reproductive health care, mental health services, and care for vulnerable populations, such as older adults and children.

Finally, the committee asked the WHO to clarify testing strategies and help countries increase their testing capacities and update their travel and trade recommendations. 

05/04/2020 11:54 GMT — What is the best material for homemade face masks?

According to findings published in the journal ACS Nano, the most effective homemade face mask might involve a combination of materials: one sheet of tightly woven cotton plus two sheets of chiffon, made from polyester and spandex. 

While this proved the most effective at filtering droplet particles, the scientists did not use the actual SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their research. 

The team, from the University of Chicago and the Argonne National Laboratory, both in Illinois, reported that tightly woven cotton plus natural silk or flannel, and cotton quilt with cotton-polyester batting also worked well.

The caveat, though, is the fit. “The effect of gaps between the contour of the face and the mask, as caused by an improper fit, will affect the efficiency of any face mask,” the authors write.

Masks have to fit very snugly to prevent any gaps. 

Read our full coverage here.

05/04/2020 11:12 GMT — COVID-19 reasons for hope: Vaccine trials take center stage 

Every 2 weeks, Medical News Today review the latest coronavirus research and highlight the most promising and reassuring findings from scientific studies in a Special Feature article. 

In the latest of these, we reported on the U.K.’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial, which saw the first two volunteers receive their injections. 

We also highlighted research into another experimental vaccine that uses an inactivated form of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and explained how researchers are using a cancer therapy tool to help design new COVID-19 vaccines. 

Finally, we summarized how researchers killed the SARS-CoV-2 virus in cell cultures using an antiparasitic drug and reported on the latest antibody tests available in the U.S. and Europe.

Read the full article here

04/30/2020 17:42 GMT — MNT’s video update

04/30/2020 15:14 GMT — Coronavirus antibody test approved in the US and Europe

Pharmaceutical company Abbott have developed a test to detect if person has had COVID-19. The test, they say, has 100% sensitivity and 99.6% specificity. 

The test measures immunoglobulin G antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. These are antibodies that the body produces in the later stages of infection. They can persist in the body for several weeks.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the test for use in the United States, and the European Union have approved it in Europe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warn against giving “immunity passports” to those who have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, saying that there is no evidence to show that such antibodies can protect against future infection. 

”This type of knowledge will enable scientists to better understand how long these antibodies stay in the body and if they provide immunity,” Abbot say in a statement.”This information can also help public health officials understand how widespread the outbreak is and could help support the development of treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

Read more here.

04/30/2020 13:58 GMT — Airborne particles may carry SARS-CoV-2

In a recent study, scientists collected aerosol samples from two hospitals where COVID-19 patients were receiving treatment. They detected genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 in airborne suspensions, known as aerosols. The authors believe that aerosols might represent a new transmission route for the virus.

Currently, scientists believe that transmission of the new coronavirus takes place in one of three ways:

  • inhalation of liquid droplets from the coughing or sneezing of a person with the infection
  • close contact with a person who has the infection
  • contact with surfaces that contain the virus

Aerosol transmission may be a fourth route of transmission. The study’s abstract appears in the journal Nature. In a preprint, the authors write: 

“Our finding has confirmed the aerosol transmission as an important pathway for surface contamination. We call for extra care and attention on the proper design, use, and disinfection of the toilets in hospitals and in communities to minimize the potential source of the virus-laden aerosol.”

Read our full coverage of the research here.

04/30/2020 13:48 GMT — Number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US passes 1 million

04/30/2020 09:15 GMT — Vietnam says it has contained COVID-19

Vietnam borders China and is home to 96 million people. Despite this, the country has reported just 270 cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths. 

According to officials in Vietnam, they succeeded because they responded robustly during the early phases of the outbreak. 

The Vietnamese government restricted travel within the country and put tens of thousands of people into quarantine as the epidemic began.

Their testing rate also helped keep the virus in check. In January, there were just three laboratories capable of testing for COVID-19 in Vietnam, but, by April, there were 112. To date, the country has carried out more than 213,000 tests.

According to Matthew Moore, one of the CDC’s officials based in Hanoi, Vietnam, “The steps are easy to describe but difficult to implement, yet they’ve been very successful at implementing them over and over again.”

Although some have questioned the official figures, WHO representative, Kidong Park, advised that there was no evidence of outbreaks aside from those that the government reported.

Read more on the story here.

04/30/2020 09:02 GMT — Loss of smell may suggest milder COVID-19

According to a recent study, loss of smell as a symptom of COVID-19 may indicate a mild case of the disease. This finding may help clinicians identify which COVID-19 patients require treatment in hospital and which may be able to self-treat the disease at home.

To reach their conclusion, the researchers took data from 128 people who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Senior author Dr. Adam S. DeConde explains that “[p]atients who reported loss of smell were 10 times less likely to be admitted for COVID-19 compared to those without loss of smell.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

04/29/2020 14:35 GMT — The CDC include a further six symptoms as indicative of COVID-19

Until recently, the symptoms to look out in anyone with a suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection were fever, cough, and shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. 

Yet there have been many reports of other symptoms, indicating that there is significant variation between how individuals experience COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently updated their symptom criteria. The organization now say that a person may have COVID-19 if they experience cough and shortness of breath or at least two of the following:

  • fever
  • chills
  • repeated shaking with chills
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • a sore throat
  • a new loss of taste and smell

The CDC state that this list is not all inclusive and ask people to consult with their medical advisor. 

Emergency warning signs that suggest that immediate medical attention is required remain as before. They include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or an inability to rouse, and a bluish tint to the lips or face.

The CDC Symptoms of Coronavirus information is available here.

04/29/2020 11:23 GMT — First US dog tests positive for coronavirus

Amid reports of cats and tigers developing COVID-19, pet owners may be wondering how likely it is that their animal companions can catch the new coronavirus.

Now, researchers from Duke University in Durham, NC, report the first case of a dog in the U.S. receiving a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2. The pug, called Winston, lives with a family who are taking part in a research project at Duke University, and three of the human family members have previously had a positive test result for the new coronavirus. 

Winston’s symptoms were mild and lasted for a few days. 

Yet Dr. John Howe, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, commented on Winston’s case by saying that he thought it more likely that the pug had licked a person or object with viral particles rather than having the infection. “Your pets are not going to catch it from you,” he stated.

None of the family’s other pets have had a positive test result. 

Read the full story here

04/29/2020 10:34 GMT — Who is really on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Physician assistant Kyle Briggs works in the ICU in Atlanta, GA. In an exclusive article for Medical News Today, he shares his dedication to looking after severely sick patients. He also describes his fears of healthcare systems becoming overwhelmed. 

Kyle suggests that we reevaluate the term front line and asks each of us to play our part in slowing the pandemic. 

“I’m not on the front line,” he explains. “Rather, as a [physician assistant]-intensivist who never leaves the ICU, I’m the last line of defense.”

“Who controls who comes through our doors? You. You are the frontline, and you play a critical role in how this virus spreads,” Kyle urges us.

Read Kyle’s article here.

04/29/2020 09:37 GMT — “It’s really a hard time right now,” says Chicago nurse looking after COVID-19 patients 

Medical News Today recently interviewed Joe, a registered nurse, whose regular day job is looking after patients in psychiatric units. Now, he finds himself caring for people with COVID-19.

Joe gave us an insight into his new way of working and explained that the pandemic is already taking its toll on mental health and will likely continue to do so.

He also urged everyone to follow the guidelines of lockdown and physical distancing. “The people who work on the front lines and see these cases up close can vouch for how serious it is,” he told us. 

Joe shared a list of resources for accessing support, as well.

Read the full interview here.

04/28/2020 16:52 GMT — More than 3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases globally

04/28/2020 13:12 GMT — MNT video update

04/28/2020 11:01 GMT — US National Institutes of Health release COVID-19 treatment guidelines

Led by a panel of physicians, statisticians, and experts in related disciplines, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have published a living document called Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines

They will updated this guide as novel clinical data become available. 

The document provides healthcare professionals with recommendations on treatment options for symptomatic, mild, and severe cases.

The guide also includes considerations for children and pregnant women, as well as details on what is known about people with COVID-19 who take medication for other reasons. 

Read more about the guidelines here

04/28/2020 10:18 GMT — How does the pandemic affect domestic violence rates? 

Several weeks ago, the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros, noted that some countries had experienced an increase in domestic violence in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As people are asked to stay at home, the risk of intimate partner violence is likely to increase,” he commented. 

Indeed, across the globe, calls to domestic abuse hotlines have shot up.

In a Special Feature article, we examine how the current health crisis and accompanying lockdowns have affected people, particularly women, in abusive relationships or living arrangements in the U.S. and around the world.

Read the full article here

04/28/2020 09:55 GMT — Accidental poisonings on the rise

According to a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidental poisonings in the United States are increasing as people attempt to sanitize their homes. Compared with 2019, there have been 20% more calls to their 55 poison helplines.

A surge occurred in March 2020, with an influx of calls regarding exposures to cleaners and disinfectants. 

Concerning cleaning products, the largest increase in calls related to bleach; as for disinfectants, the majority related to alcohol-free disinfectants and hand sanitizers.

The report explains that “The timing of these reported exposures corresponded to increased media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of consumer shortages of cleaning and disinfection products, and the beginning of some local and state stay-at-home orders.”

Read the full report, which includes case studies, here.

04/27/2020 14:59 GMT — Globally, over 2.9 million people have now contracted COVID-19

04/27/2020 11:55 GMT — How is the pandemic affecting people in different countries?

While many countries have adopted some physical distancing measures, they have each followed a unique path in terms of the levels of recommendations or restrictions. 

For a Special Feature article, Medical News Today spoke to people from different countries about their experiences. 

We heard stories from Japan, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Romania, France, Belgium, Canada, and Australia. 

Many of our respondents expressed concern for family members. Some described the toll on their mental health. 

When MNT asked about their hopes for a postpandemic world, most said they did not want things to go back to the way they were before. They called for people, communities, and public decision makers to enact wide-reaching changes for the better. 

Read the full article here.

04/27/2020 09:18 GMT — Japan tightens borders further

Today, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outlined increased restrictions on entering the country. Already, individuals from more than 70 countries have been banned from entering Japan; today, 14 countries were added to the list, including Saudi Arabia, Peru, and Russia.

Initially, visa restrictions were set to end on April 30. Now, they have been extended to the end of May. To date, Japan has reported 13,441 cases of COVID-19 and 372 related deaths.

Read more about the global response to COVID-19 here.

04/27/2020 09:13 GMT — Can protective masks be disinfected at home?

A recent study, published in the Journal of the International Society for Respiratory Protection, concluded that homemade protective masks could be successfully disinfected using heat and remain effective.

The scientists found that homemade masks and some medical masks can withstand simple disinfection without significantly reducing their effectiveness.

Although the researchers acknowledge that their study was relatively small, they conclude, “Everything we know so far suggests that wearing almost any kind of mask in public is better than nothing, that a tight fit is best, and that, with certain limits, many types of masks can be reused outside of medical settings.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

04/24/2020 16:52 GMT — More than 50,000 people have now died in the United States as a result of developing COVID-19

04/24/2020 16:45 GMT — MNT video update: CT use in COVID-19 diagnosis

04/24/2020 09:44 GMT — Scientists identify nose cells that may act as entry point for SARS-CoV-2

A new study that appears in the journal Nature Medicine identifies two cell types that may be the gateway for SARS-CoV-2 — namely, mucus-producing goblet and ciliated cells on the surface of the inside of the nose.

Both of these cell types have high levels of ACE2 and TMPRSS2, proteins that can facilitate SARS-CoV-2 entry.

ACE2 and TMPRSS2 are expressed in a number of organs. However, first study author Dr. Waradon Sungnak explains, “Goblet cells and ciliated cells in the nose had the highest levels of both these COVID-19 virus proteins, of all cells in the airways. This makes these cells the most likely initial infection route for the virus.”

The researchers believe that this finding could shed light on COVID-19’s rapid infection rates. Another study author, Dr. Martijn Nawijn, explains how the “location of these cells on the surface of the inside of the nose make them highly accessible to the virus and also may assist with transmission to other people.”

Full access to the study is available here.

04/24/2020 09:08 GMT — Number of COVID-19 cases in China may have been four times higher than official counts

A recent analysis, which appears in The Lancet, estimates that the number of COVID-19 cases in China may have been more than 4 times greater than the official figures. This is due to changes in the definition of COVID-19 cases. 

During the early phases of the epidemic, officials changed the way they defined a case of COVID-19 a total of seven times. 

This is not unusual during an outbreak: Initially, a definition will be narrow, but, as scientists understand more about the disease, the case definition broadens to include milder cases and affected individuals outside of the epicenter of the outbreak, which, in this case, was Wuhan.

The latest study calculates the likely number of reported cases if the fifth definition had been applicable from the start. The authors analyzed data up to the fifth definition because data for the sixth and seventh were not yet available.

Using this data, the authors conclude that by February 20, there may have been about 232,000 cases, rather than the reported 55,508.

Read the full study here.

04/24/2020 09:05 GMT — UK doctors launch legal challenge over PPE

In the United Kingdom, two doctors who have been exposed to patients with COVID-19 are mounting a legal challenge against the government. The doctors claim that the U.K.’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidance does not align with WHO standards.

In a statement that the doctors issued, they explain that “it is the government’s duty to protect its healthcare workers, and there is great anxiety amongst staff with regards to safety protocols that seem to change without rhyme or reason.”

The doctors are particularly concerned with last week’s change to guidance, which states that they can use plastic aprons instead of protective gowns in certain situations. They plan to seek a judicial review of the U.K.’s PPE guidance.

Read more about the legal action here.

04/24/2020 09:02 GMT — The role of blood clotting in COVID-19

A recent review, which appears in the journal Physiological Reviews, notes that hemorrhage or bleeding disorders are often the cause of death for people with COVID-19. The authors argue that an overactive anticlotting system may be what causes excessive bleeding in COVID-19.

This overactivity of the body’s attempts to remove blood clots is known as hyperfibrinolysis. The authors of the study conclude:

“Targeting hyperfibrinolysis with a broad spectrum or specific anti-plasmin compounds may prove to be a promising strategy for improving the clinical outcome of patients with comorbid conditions.”

Read MNT‘s full coverage of the study here.

04/23/2020 09:49 GMT — Scientists conclude COVID-19 is not sexually transmitted

According to a recent study that appears in the journal Fertility and Sterility, SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be transmitted in semen. The scientists reached this conclusion after testing semen from 34 men who had tested positive for the virus. 

The findings are important; as co-author Dr. James M. Hotaling explains, “If a disease like COVID-19 were sexually transmittable, that would have major implications for disease prevention and could have serious consequences for a man’s long-term reproductive health.”

The authors explain that SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in the participants’ semen 1 month after their COVID-19 diagnoses. 

However, the study was small, and scientists will need to carry out larger trials to confirm the findings. The authors also acknowledge that “The long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 on male reproductive function remain unknown.”

Read the abstract here

04/23/2020 09:11 GMT — Study confirms that WHO-recommended hand sanitizers inactivate SARS-CoV-2

A recent study tests two alcohol-based hand sanitizers against SARS-CoV-2. Although the WHO recommend the formulations, little research has tested their effectiveness. Researcher Prof. Stephanie Pfänder writes, “We showed that both WHO-recommended formulations sufficiently inactivate the virus after 30 seconds.” 

As stocks of hand sanitizers run low, this study gives pharmacies the green light to make their own sanitizers using the WHO formulations. The authors conclude that their “findings are crucial to minimize viral transmission and maximize virus inactivation in the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.”

Read our coverage of the study here.

04/23/2020 09:08 GMT — Scientists plan to test nicotine patches

French scientists are planning to test nicotine patches on frontline workers. Although the researchers stress that smoking has severe health consequences, there is some evidence that nicotine might protect against infection.

The study is based on snippets of evidence from several earlier studies. For instance, a Chinese study collated data from 1,099 individuals with COVID-19. Of this group, 12.9% were smokers; in the general population in China, 28% are smokers.

These and other studies infer that a component of cigarettes, most likely nicotine, might have a protective effect.

However, the scientists stress that because COVID-19 affects the lungs, smokers who develop the condition are likely to experience more severe symptoms.

Read more about the upcoming study here

04/23/2020 09:04 GMT — Two cats test positive for SARS-CoV-2

Two cats in New York have become the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. The animals developed a mild respiratory illness, but experts expect them to recover.  However, no members of the household have developed COVID-19.

In a media statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that “there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”

Read more about COVID-19 and pets here.

04/22/2020 13:37 GMT — Is Sweden’s strategy working?

Sweden has been the odd one out, when it comes to lockdown measures in European countries. 

Schools for students under 16 and many businesses, restaurants, and bars have stayed open. Rather than imposing strict lockdown measures, the government has asked citizens to voluntarily follow advice about limiting social contact, washing their hands frequently, working from home when possible, and avoiding nonessential travel. 

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in a statement on April 6: “Our government agencies and our healthcare system are doing everything they can. But every person in Sweden needs to take individual responsibility. If everyone takes responsibility, we can keep the spread of the virus in check. Follow the authorities’ advice: If you have even the slightest symptoms, do not go to work and refrain from meeting other people.”

As of today, Sweden has reported 15,322 cases of COVID-19 and 1,765 deaths. 

While these numbers are lower than those of other European countries, they are significantly higher than those of neighbors Finland and Norway. 

Amid calls from critics, leading epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, of the country’s public health agency, spoke to Nature about why he thinks Sweden’s strategy is working. 

He explains that Sweden lacks the laws to impose lockdowns and acknowledges the issue of deaths in care homes for seniors. 

“Most problems that we have right now are not because of the disease, but because of the measures that in some environments have not been applied properly: The deaths among older people is a huge problem, and we are fighting hard,” Tegnell says. 

Overall, he says that he is satisfied with Sweden’s strategy. 

Read the full interview here.

04/22/2020 09:26 GMT — Researchers identify another 30 drug candidates for COVID-19

Working with the live SARS-CoV-2 virus, scientists have identified 30 existing drugs that appear to stop the virus from replicating. Many of these drug candidates have not yet undergone testing against COVID-19.

According to senior author Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., “We believe this is one of the first comprehensive drug screens using the live SARS-CoV-2 virus, and our hope is that one or more of these drugs will save lives while we wait for a vaccine for COVID-19.”

Of the 30 drugs that the scientists identified, six were effective at concentrations likely to be tolerable in humans.

As the authors explain, because doctors already use these drugs in the clinic, this “will accelerate their preclinical and clinical evaluation for COVID-19 treatment.”

Read the full study here.

04/22/2020 09:04 GMT — Antiparasitic drug shows promise 

A recent study using cell cultures concludes that ivermectin, an existing antiparasitic drug, can eliminate SARS-CoV-2 within 48 hours. However, whether this approach is safe and effective in human beings remains to be seen.

According to lead researcher Kylie Wagstaff, Ph.D., they “found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours, there was a really significant reduction in it.”

However, there are still hurdles to overcome. Wagstaff explains that they need to find out “whether the dosage you can use it at in humans will be effective.”

Read our coverage of the study here.

04/22/2020 09:00 GMT — More children affected than first thought

The authors of a new study conclude that more children in the United States required hospitalization with COVID-19 than officials previously estimated. The paper, which appears in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, used data from pediatric intensive care units in the U.S. and China. 

Their projections suggest that, in some scenarios, U.S. pediatric healthcare services might become overwhelmed by the number of sick children who need care.

Study co-author Jason Salemi, Ph.D. explains that, “Although the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is lower in pediatric cases than adults, hospitals should be prepared and have the proper equipment and staffing levels to deal with a potential influx of younger patients.”

Read more about the new analysis here.

04/21/2020 15:05 GMT — Almost 2.5 million people have now contracted COVID-19

04/21/2020 11:43 GMT — 5G towers torched by conspiracy theorists

Across Europe, conspiracy theorists have set fire to dozens of 5G towers. Despite the lack of evidence, these individuals believe that 5G is helping the virus spread. At a time when communication is more important than ever, officials in Europe and the United States are monitoring the situation closely.

To date, around 50 cell towers and telecommunication installations have fallen victim to these individuals in the United Kingdom. Similar attacks have appeared in the Netherlands, Iceland, Belgium, and Cyprus.

In the U.K., one attack focused on a tower supplying voice and data traffic to a field hospital in Birmingham. Nick Jeffery, CEO Vodafone U.K. wrote:

“It’s heart-rending enough that families cannot be there at the bedside of loved ones who are critically ill. It’s even more upsetting that even the small solace of a phone or video call may now be denied them because of the selfish actions of a few deluded conspiracy theorists.”

Read the facts about 5G and health in this feature.

04/21/2020 10:42 GMT — New Zealand aims to eliminate SARS-CoV-2

Partially due to New Zealand’s remote geography and relatively sparsely distributed population, the country has experienced comparatively few cases of COVID-19. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes that they may be in a position to eliminate the virus entirely.

Last week, Ardern said, “We have the opportunity to do something no other country has achieved: elimination of the virus. But it will continue to need a team of 5 million behind it.”

The country went into lockdown in late March, after registering just 100 cases. According to Ardern, her motto was “Go hard, go early.” Next week, the country will ease some of the current restrictions, but it will only ease the lockdown gradually.

More about New Zealand’s situation here.

04/21/2020 09:46 GMT — Lifting lockdowns must be gradual, says WHO

At a press conference yesterday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against easing lockdown measures too quickly.

 He explained that “Easing restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country” and that individuals, communities, and governments will need to continue their efforts to control COVID-19.

“So-called lockdowns can help to take the heat out of a country’s epidemic, but they cannot end it alone,” he continued. “Countries must now ensure they can detect, test, isolate and care for every case, and trace every contact.”

View the full transcript here.

04/21/2020 09:36 GMT — Facebook takes down anti-quarantine protest events

According to Facebook Inc., they have removed anti-quarantine protest events in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska. However, the company explained that they would only remove events that defied government guidelines.

A spokesperson for Facebook, Andy Stone, said, “Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.”

On Monday, Mark Zuckerberg told ABC News that Facebook would remove content suggesting that physical distancing does not reduce the virus’ spread.

Read more about Facebook’s response here.

04/21/2020 08:01 GMT — MNT video update

04/20/2020 14:00 GMT — Germany begins to ease lockdown

Germany has been under lockdown since March 22. Now, as the number of new infections slows, they are beginning to ease lockdown. Some small stores, car dealerships, and bike shops are reopening, although physical distancing measures are still in place.

However, for most businesses, the lockdown will continue until May 3.

Across the country, the government has recommended that people wear masks in public; in the state of Saxony, this is mandatory. Schools are still closed, except for students who are sitting their leaving exams.

Germany has experienced lower COVID-19 mortality rates than neighboring countries. Officials believe that this is partly due to the detailed tracing of people who have contracted the infection and large-scale testing.

To date, Germany has registered 145,743 infections and 4,642 deaths.

Read more about the situation in Germany here.

04/20/2020 10:48 GMT — Could pollution affect COVID-19 lethality?

A study in the journal Environmental Pollution found a correlation between air pollution and death rates from COVID-19 in Italy. In Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, which both have high levels of pollution, the lethality rate was 12%. In the rest of the country, the rate was around 4.5%.

When discussing why this relationship might appear, the authors explain that “[a]ir pollution represents one of the most well-known causes of prolonged inflammation, eventually leading to an innate immune system hyper-activation.”

However, they note that there may be other ways to explain these differences. For instance, it may be due to the way each region records deaths and infections or because Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna have relatively older populations.

Read our coverage of the study here.

04/20/2020 10:42 GMT — Study looks at relationship between obesity and COVID-19 severity

A recent study, published in the journal Obesity, identified “a high frequency of obesity among patients admitted in intensive care for [COVID-19].” The authors also note that individuals with a higher BMI tended to experience more severe symptoms.

The researchers collated information on 124 individuals admitted to intensive care units for COVID-19. They classified more than three-quarters of these patients as having either obesity or severe obesity.

Overall, they conclude, “Obesity is a risk factor for SARS‐CoV‐2 severity, requiring increased attention to preventive measures in susceptible individuals.”

Read the full study here.

04/20/2020 09:12 GMT — 60% of people infected by SARS-CoV-2 on the Theodore Roosevelt displayed no symptoms

After one crew member tested positive for COVID-19 on a United States aircraft carrier, 94% of the 4,800 crew members were tested. More than 600 tested positive, yet the majority experienced no symptoms.

In total, 60% of those aboard the Theodore Roosevelt who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 reported no symptoms. 

It is worth noting that the individuals aboard this ship were all young adults and, therefore, not indicative of the U.S. population; also, some of the 60% may go on to develop symptoms. However, 60% is significantly higher than other estimates, which range from 25–50%. 

The ways in which this virus might move through a young, otherwise healthy population have implications for U.S. policymakers looking at reopening the economy.

Read the full story here.

04/17/2020 17:01 GMT — MNT’s daily video update

04/17/2020 15:21 GMT — More than 2,170,000 people have now contracted COVID-19

04/17/2020 09:25 GMT — China increases Wuhan death toll by 50%

The official death toll for COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, was 2,579. Yesterday, officials in China readjusted the tally to 3,869, an increase of about 50%. They explained that their initial figures were incorrect because while the healthcare system was overwhelmed, communication broke down.

The officials also revised the total number of cases in Wuhan, increasing it by 325 to 50,333. A Chinese official whom the Xinhua News Agency quoted explains why the initial figures were incorrect:

“Due to the insufficiency in admission and treatment capability, a few medical institutions failed to connect with the disease prevention and control system in time, while hospitals were overloaded and medics were overwhelmed with patients. As a result, belated, missed, and mistaken reporting occurred.”

Read more on the story here.

04/17/2020 09:19 GMT — As stocks run low, researchers investigate ways to extend the life of N95 respirators

N95 respirators protect healthcare workers from airborne infectious agents. Manufacturers design them for single use, and stocks are running low. A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tested ways to decontaminate single-use N95 respirators so that people could reuse them.

As global supplies of personal protective equipment run short, scientists are looking for ways to make stocks last longer. The study, which is yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal, tested four commonly used decontamination methods: UV light, 70% ethanol, temperature treatment at 70ºC (158ºF), and vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP).

They investigated which methods inactivated SARS-CoV-2 and, importantly, assessed how each method impacted the functioning of the masks, which need to maintain a proper fit and tight seal around the face.

The authors conclude that people could reuse UV and heat treated respirators twice and those treated with VHP three times. Because VHP decontamination only takes 10 minutes, the authors believe that this might be the most viable option.

Read more about the study here.

04/17/2020 09:12 GMT — WHO address myths associated with alcohol and COVID-19

In response to a spike in myths surrounding alcohol and COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) have published a news release and a fact sheet. They remind people that “drinking alcohol does not protect them from COVID-19.”

The news release explains how “[f]ear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. It does not. Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences, including death.” 

Rather than fighting COVID-19, the WHO explain how alcohol is associated with a range of diseases and can, therefore, “make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19.” 

Although alcohol can disinfect skin, the WHO warn people that it “has no such effect within your system when ingested” and that it does not “stimulate immunity and virus resistance.” The fact sheet explains further: “Alcohol use, especially heavy use, weakens the immune system and thus reduces the ability to cope with infectious diseases.” 

A recent MNT feature addresses some of the other myths that surround COVID-19.

04/17/2020 09:00 GMT — How long will COVID-19 last?

Medical News Today recently published a feature that asks how long COVID-19 is likely to last. In the article, the author collates comments from a variety of experts, including WHO advisor Prof. David Heymann. Although no one can provide a definitive answer, the article offers valuable insight.

Finding a vaccine may help bring this pandemic to a close, and some believe that this might be available by fall. Others, however, are less optimistic. The article also asks what might happen once the pandemic slows and we begin returning to a relatively normal life. 

Prof. Paul Kellam, an infectious disease specialist and professor of virus genomics at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom believes that SARS-CoV-2 may become a seasonal human pathogen, like the coronaviruses that cause seasonal colds. “In that sense,” he explains, “humans will be with this virus forever.”  

Read the full feature here.

04/16/2020 18:54 GMT — MNT’s daily video update

04/16/2020 14:55 GMT — More than 30,000 people in the US have now died from COVID-19

04/16/2020 10:20 GMT — “Cough chamber” study underlines importance of physical distancing

A recent study at the University of Western Ontario in Canada examined the movement of droplets produced by a cough. Using a “cough chamber,” the researchers found that 2 meters (6 feet) is not necessarily enough distance to prevent droplets from reaching another person.

As study co-author Prof. Eric Savory explains: “If you’re a couple meters away from someone who coughs unobstructively, then within about 3 seconds or so, their cough has reached you — and is still moving. Even when you’re 2.5 meters away, the airflow in the cough can still be moving at 200 millimeters per second.”

The study also showed that around 10% of the droplets are still in the air 4 seconds after the cough. The research is yet to be published, but the journal Indoor Air has accepted it for publication.

Prof. Savory says: “There is no real logical reason for saying that 2 meters is somehow safe, but it’s much better than 1 meter or closer. We’re not saying you’re going to get infected; we’re just saying there is a risk there. Obviously, it decreases the further you are away.”

Read more about the study and future research here.

04/16/2020 09:05 GMT — Preliminary study into remdesivir yields encouraging results

A recent study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry explored whether an experimental Ebola drug called remdesivir might help treat COVID-19. Although the research took place in the laboratory, the results are encouraging.

Earlier studies showed that remdesivir was effective against some coronaviruses, and there are reports that the drug may have helped some patients seeking treatment for COVID-19.

The drug blocks an enzyme called RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which SARS-CoV-2 needs to replicate.

The authors of the study explain that although the results are promising, they cannot confirm that the drug would be safe in humans or effective in treating COVID-19. They will need to wait for the results of clinical trials.

Prof. Matthias Götte, who contributed to the study, explains, “We are desperate [to find an effective treatment for COVID-19], but we still have to keep the bar high for anything that we put into clinical trials.” 

Read more about the study here.

04/16/2020 09:02 GMT — Hospitalizations in New York down for second day

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, explained on Monday that the worst stage of the outbreak was over for the state. Yesterday, in a media briefing, he advised that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 had fallen for 2 days in a row.

Cuomo held the media briefing with Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, and Ned Lamont, the governor of Connecticut. They outlined plans to restart the economy. However, they explained that even once businesses start to reopen, people should continue to wear masks and maintain physical distancing. 

“We need to build a bridge toward a reopening of the economy,” said Cuomo. “We are going to a different place — a new normal.”

Cuomo advised that the crisis will not be over until scientists have designed a vaccine, which could be 12–18 months away.

Find more information from the media briefing here.

Previous COVID-19 updates available here:

March 24-April 15

March 7–March 23

Feb 22–March 6