04/15/2020 17:58 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/15/2020 15:45 GMT — Global number of confirmed cases passes 2 million
04/15/2020 14:06 GMT — How does sex relate to COVID-19?
A Special Feature article explores the pandemic’s infection and mortality rates broken down by sex. In it, we ask why men are more likely to die and why women might be at greater risk.
Drawing on a number of studies, we discuss differences between the immune systems of women and men, sex and lifestyle factors, and the need for sex-disaggregated data in clinical research.
04/15/2020 13:37 GMT — School closure may only have minor effect on the COVID-19 pandemic
A team of researchers in the United Kingdom and Australia reviewed 16 studies to see whether closing schools could slow down the COVID-19 pandemic. They conclude that the effects are only marginal.
Writing in the The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, the scientists warn that the economic, educational, social, and health-related costs may outweigh any benefits, as the impact that school closure may have will likely be smaller than that of other public health interventions.
Read the full story here.
04/15/2020 10:10 GMT — 1 in 5 deaths in England and Wales related to COVID-19
According to the Office for National Statistics, during the week ending on April 3, 2020, COVID-19 appeared on 3,475 death certificates in England and Wales. This equates to around 1 in 5 deaths.
At this time of year, there are normally around 10,000 deaths each week in these countries, collectively. In the week ending April 3, there were 16,000 deaths — the highest figure since the Office for National Statistics started collating this data in 2005.
Previously, the highest number of deaths in a week had occurred during a flu outbreak in 2015.
To date, the United Kingdom has registered almost 95,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 12,000 deaths.
More detail is available here.
04/15/2020 09:18 GMT — Studying coronaviruses and heart health
A recent paper, published in JAMA Cardiology, investigates the relationship between cardiovascular health and coronaviruses. The authors combine data from studies on a number of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.
They suggest that existing cardiovascular disease might increase the chance of developing COVID-19, increase the mortality risk, or both.
In the paper, the authors write that, “Lessons from the previous coronavirus and influenza epidemics suggest that viral infections can trigger acute coronary syndromes, arrhythmias, and development or exacerbation of heart failure.”
They also explain that COVID-19 “may either induce new cardiac pathologies and/or exacerbate underlying cardiovascular diseases.” However, the authors note that, at this time, there is a scarcity of data on the cardiovascular effects of SARS-CoV-2, specifically.
Read more about the review article here.
04/15/2020 09:01 GMT — President Trump stops WHO’s funding
Over recent days, United States president, Donald Trump, has grown increasingly hostile toward the World Health Organization (WHO). Yesterday, he announced he would stop providing financial support to the organization. Historically, the U.S. has provided 15% of the WHO’s total budget.
President Trump claims that the organization promoted “disinformation” from China. He believes that the WHO’s actions allowed the outbreak to become worse than it could have been.
In a press conference yesterday, Trump claimed that, “Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death.”
In a statement, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.”
Editor-in-chief of the Lancet journal, Richard Horton, wrote in a tweet that the funding hold was “a crime against humanity. Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity.”
More on this story here.
04/14/2020 19:40 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/14/2020 11:57 GMT — China moves to prevent imported cases
Last week, officials lifted the 76-day lockdown imposed on Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, officials are increasingly concerned about imported cases crossing the Russian border in the north of the country.
Heilongjiang province, thousands of kilometers from Wuhan, is experiencing a rising number of cases. Although its border with Russia is less traveled than China’s major cities, many people who live or work in Russia do use this route.
The land border is already closed, and travelers arriving by air must spend 1 month in quarantine. In the past few days, emergency medical units and a field hospital have appeared in the border city of Suifenhe. The city, home to 70,000 people, has now experienced an estimated 1,000 cases of COVID-19.
Read the full story here.
04/14/2020 11:27 GMT — Researchers investigate treating two patients with one ventilator
With ventilators in short supply, a group of researchers in Australia conducted a study to investigate whether splitting a single ventilator between two patients might be a viable option. They concluded that ventilator splitting could work but that it is far from ideal.
Modifying the ventilators using only basic hospital equipment, the researchers tested ventilator splitting in a simulated environment. They concluded that the method could work, but they also called for caution.
One of the authors, Dr. Shaun Gregory from Monash University, Australia, explained, “While the discovery is promising, the use of this method in the clinical context has not been validated, and we don’t recommend its wider use without further trials.”
He continues: “Despite our advances in the practical application of ventilator splitting, the practice is unregulated and undertested. But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, some countries, like the U.S., may consider ventilator splitting on compassionate grounds. The United States of America Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has passed emergency use authorization for the splitting of ventilators.”
Read the full study here.
04/14/2020 11:03 GMT — What factors did people who died from COVID-19 have in common?
In a recent study, researchers analyzed the health records of 85 individuals who died from COVID-19 in Wuhan, China and identified factors that the people shared.
Among these individuals, 72.9% were male, the median age was 65.8 years, and underlying chronic conditions were common.
The researchers write, “We hope that this study conveys the seriousness of COVID-19 and emphasizes the risk groups of males over 50 with chronic comorbid conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease, and diabetes.”
They also identify that “While respiratory symptoms may not develop until a week after presentation, once they do, there can be a rapid decline, as indicated by the short duration between time of admission and death (6.35 days on average) in our study.”
The authors acknowledge that this data was collected in the early phase of the outbreak and from just one region. The findings may not apply more generally because “Genetics may play a role in the response to the infection, and the course of the pandemic may change as the virus mutates.”
Find out more about the analysis here.
04/14/2020 10:46 GMT — WHO statement on collaboration to develop a vaccine
According to a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday, they have activated a “Research and Development Blueprint” that promises to “accelerate the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for this novel coronavirus.”
The WHO are helping coordinate “a group of experts with diverse backgrounds” who are all working towards a vaccine for COVID-19.
The latest statement includes a declaration, which these scientists, doctors, funders, and manufacturers have signed, having “come together as part of an international collaboration, coordinated by the WHO, to help speed the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19.”
Although the signatories understand that developing this vaccine will take time, they explain that it could be “instrumental in controlling this worldwide pandemic.”
Read the full statement here.
04/09/2020 16:52 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/09/2020 15:04 GMT — The number of deaths in New York City now stands at over 4,500
04/09/2020 14:43 GMT — Rapid review of 29 studies concludes that quarantine is effective
A Cochrane rapid review by researchers from Danube University Krems, in Austria, has assessed evidence concerning quarantine measures during coronavirus outbreaks.
The team looked at 29 studies, of which 15 modeled data from the SARS and MERS outbreaks, four were observational, and 10 used COVID-19 models.
The review, which the World Health Organization (WHO) commissioned, specifically investigated the effects of quarantine measures — either on their own or in combination with other interventions — among people who had contact with individuals who had confirmed COVID-19, people who had travelled to countries with declared COVID-19 outbreaks, or people living in areas with high transmission rates.
“Findings consistently indicate that quarantine is important in reducing incidence and mortality during the COVID‐19 pandemic,” the authors conclude. “Early implementation of quarantine and combining quarantine with other public health measures is important to ensure effectiveness.”
04/09/2020 09:23 GMT — Federal stocks of protective equipment running low
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Strategic National Stockpile is running out of essential equipment for frontline healthcare staff; this includes N95 respirators, surgical masks, gowns, and face shields.
A statement from the HHS confirms that around 90% of the personal protective equipment has now been distributed to state and local governments.
In a statement, Carolyn B. Maloney, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, says, “Now that the national stockpile has been depleted of critical equipment, it appears that the administration is leaving states to fend for themselves, to scour the open market for these scarce supplies, and to compete with each other and federal agencies in a chaotic, free-for-all bidding war.”
Read more here.
04/09/2020 09:09 GMT — How to tackle the ventilator crisis
A new Special Feature published on Medical News Today discusses the challenging topic of ventilator allocation during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to some estimates, the United States will need an additional 75,000 ventilators to tackle this crisis.
As the author of the article writes, “Due to the lack of critical care resources, healthcare professionals, patients, and families around the world must live with the consequences of withdrawing life support from one person for the benefit of another.”
The Feature explores the topic using explanations and recommendations from doctors and bioethicists.
Read the full piece here.
04/09/2020 08:45 GMT — New study suggests sewage could help track COVID-19
The authors of a recent study featuring in the journal Environmental Science & Technology believe that testing for SARS-CoV-2 in raw sewage might help track its spread among communities.
The researchers involved in the recent study previously designed a paper-based test that can detect malaria. The tests are cost effective and do not require skilled laboratory technicians.
The team believes that similar technology could be effective in detecting the coronavirus. Lead author Zhugen Yang, Ph.D., explains how this could help:
“If COVID-19 can be monitored in a community at an early stage through [wastewater-based epidemiology], effective intervention can be taken as early as possible to restrict the movements of that local population, working to minimize the pathogen spread and threat to public health.”
Read more about the research here.
04/08/2020 18:57 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/08/2020 14:50 GMT — US set to have more than 400,000 confirmed cases
04/08/2020 11:36 GMT — Surgical masks are effective but should not be used by the general public, researchers advise
A recent study in the journal Nature found that surgical masks are effective in reducing viral shedding of seasonal coronavirus particles.
A team from the University of Maryland and the University of Hong Kong, in China, compared how well surgical masks prevent the spread of viral particles. The researchers tested people who had the flu or seasonal colds caused by either rhinoviruses or seasonal coronaviruses.
They found that surgical masks were able to reduce viral particle shedding through coughing, sneezing, and breathing in volunteers with seasonal coronavirus infections.
This research did not include people who had COVID-19.
However, one senior study author comments, “The ability of surgical masks to reduce seasonal coronavirus in respiratory droplets and aerosols implies that such masks can contribute to slowing the spread of COVID-19 when worn by infected people.”
Importantly, the authors note that these masks are not a first line of defense for the general public. They suggest adopting other approaches, including ventilation and UV lighting, in public spaces instead.
Read the full story here.
04/08/2020 10:24 GMT — Amazon test disinfectant fog at NY warehouse
Following worker protests over infection risks at Amazon.com Inc.’s Staten Island warehouse, the company are trialing disinfectant fog. This type of intervention is used in hospitals and airlines to sanitize facilities.
The decision comes after some officials and staff have called for the facility’s closure.
In a statement, Amazon wrote, “We continue to explore even more preventative measures to support the health and safety of employees, who are providing a critical service in our communities.”
At the New York warehouse, known as JFK8, a number of staff have walked out in protest over fears of infection. As the number of cases of COVID-19 in New York continues to rise, the facility is likely to receive continued attention.
More about Amazon’s disinfectant fog here.
04/08/2020 08:57 GMT — New York registers deadliest day
On Monday, New York reported 656 new hospitalizations and 731 deaths from COVID-19, up from 599 deaths on Sunday. Governor Andrew Cuomo remains positive, explaining that even with this apparent spike, the 3-day averages show that there is still a downward trend in case numbers.
Governor Cuomo also confirmed that social distancing, alongside business and school closures, was having the intended effect. “Our behavior affects the number of cases,” explains Cuomo. “They are not descending on us from heaven.”
At a briefing yesterday, Cuomo explained that he was currently in talks with governors in New Jersey and Connecticut; they are already developing plans to restart life once the pandemic subsides.
More on the situation in New York here.
04/08/2020 08:33 GMT — Wuhan eases lockdown, Heilongjiang increases restrictions
Officials in Wuhan, China, the region where COVID-19 first appeared, are easing restrictions as the number of new cases drops to just three in 21 days. However, Heilongjiang province in northern China is experiencing a surge in cases and has started restricting movement.
Heilongjiang shares a border with Russia; the spike in cases appears to be due to travelers bringing the virus in from Russia. The city of Suifenhe in Heilongjiang, which lies directly on the Russian border, has restricted the movement of residents.
Residents of Heilongjiang must stay in their compounds, and only one member of each household can leave once every 3 days to purchase necessities.
Further information about the situation in China here.
04/07/2020 17:35 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/07/2020 15:45 GMT — UK prime minister hospitalized
Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, has been admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital, in London. Last week, the 55-year-old announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19; his symptoms worsened over the weekend.
Johnson is the first head of government to have fallen ill with COVID-19. He is currently receiving oxygen, but he is not on a ventilator. In his absence, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is running the country.
According to a tweet from the prime minister, he is in “good spirits.”
Read more here.
07/04/2020 11:20 GMT — WHO concerned as coronavirus accelerates in Africa
In a recent news release, the WHO raise concerns about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Africa. The continent’s health systems are already fragile, and if the number of cases continues to accelerate, they will be overrun.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa outlines the advance of COVID-19 in Africa:
“It took 16 days from the first confirmed case in [Africa] to reach 100 cases. It took a further 10 days to reach the first thousand. Three days after this, there were 2,000 cases, and 2 days later, we were at 3,000.”
Some countries, such as Kenya, Uganda, and the Republic of the Congo, have already implemented countrywide lockdowns. However, because many people in these countries live in crowded areas and work in the “informal sector,” it is important that they still have access to essential services.
To address this, the press release states, “governments must use these measures in a considered, evidence-based manner, and make sure that people can continue to access basic necessities.”
According to the WHO, they are already “pursuing innovative solutions to the region’s pressing public health problems.”
Read the full news release here.
04/07/2020 11:09 GMT — Glucocorticoids may increase COVID-19 risk
People who take glucocorticoids may be more likely to contract SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus, and develop severe symptoms of COVID-19, suggest members of the editorial board of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Glucocorticoids are an effective treatment for chronic inflammatory conditions because they reduce inflammation. Yet, by suppressing the immune system, the drugs also increase the likelihood of contracting viral infections.
The authors recommend that doctors consider all individuals who take glucocorticoids to be at high risk of COVID-19.
However, they caution that it is not clear if the drugs themselves are to blame, or whetherincreased susceptibility to COVID-19 is due to a person’s underlying immune condition, or any other drugs that they make take in combination with glucocorticoids.
Read more here.
04/07/2020 10:05 GMT — Researchers recommend app-based contact tracing
A team from Oxford University, in the United Kingdom, proposes that a mobile app could rapidly speed up the tracing of points of contact among people who develop COVID-19.
The researchers suggest that this could help areas transition from lockdown to what they call “intelligent physical distancing.”
“The mobile app concept we’ve mathematically modeled is simple and doesn’t need to track your location; it uses a low energy version of Bluetooth to log a memory of all the app users with whom you have come into close proximity over the last few days,” explains Dr. David Bonsall, one of the paper’s authors.
“If you then become infected, these people are alerted instantly and anonymously and advised to go home and self-isolate.”
The team discusses the ethical implications that such an app might pose and sets out a number of principles that would ensure trustworthiness.
Read the full story here.
04/06/2020 18:53 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/06/2020 15:20 GMT — Antimalarial drug may not work in severe COVID-19 cases
Specifically, the new trial looks at the drug hydroxychloroquine in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin. The new study builds on previous research, such as a French study by Gautret et al., which reported a 100% viral clearance in patients who took the combination.
However, as some experts have pointed out, this previous study applied the drug combination in people with mild symptoms. So, the new trial wanted to test the efficacy of the combination in people with severe symptoms.
To find out, Jean Michel Molina, from the Infectious Diseases Department at the Saint Louis Hospital, in Paris, France, tested the drug combination in 11 patients, aged 58.7 years on average. Eight of the patients had underlying conditions that placed them at risk of a poor outcome.
Molina and colleagues summarize their findings, saying, “[W]e found no evidence of a strong antiviral activity or clinical benefit of the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of our hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.”
They call for more randomized clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of this drug combination.
The full study can be accessed here.
04/06/2020 13:30 GMT — Globally, the number of deaths has surpassed 70,000, and over 270,000 people have recovered
04/06/2020 12:15 GMT — 5 countries have now had more confirmed cases than China
04/06/2020 10:55 GMT — ‘Urgent plea’ for COVID-19 convalescent plasma
Transferring antibodies from the plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19 into critically ill patients may increase their chances of recovery.
The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project have recently launched a website, where they call for individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma.
Although doctors have used this technique for more than 100 years, scientists need to run large trials using convalescent plasma to assess whether it is a viable treatment for COVID-19. Although the FDA are making efforts to facilitate trials, convalescent plasma is in short supply.
Prof. Nigel Paneth, from Michigan State University, explains that “As of April 1, more than 1,100 plasma donors have registered, but we need more. We are developing a coordination plan with Red Cross and other agencies to collect and distribute plasma. We also are working directly with the FDA to obtain clearance to use convalescent plasma in trials and, in certain situations, outside of a trial framework.”
Read more here.
04/06/2020 10:15 GMT — Tiger tests positive for COVID-19
This weekend, a tiger at a New York City zoo tested positive for COVID-19. The 4-year-old tiger, called Nadia, is thought to be the animal with the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.
In all, seven big cats developed a dry cough. All animals are under veterinary care and doing well. Zoo officials believe that the cats were infected by an asymptomatic member of staff.
In a statement, the United States Department of Agriculture write, “Anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, out of an abundance of caution, including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people. Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. If a sick person must care for a pet or be around animals, they should wash their hands before and after the interaction.”
Read more on the story here.
04/06/2020 09:02 GMT — CDC: New recommendations regarding facial coverings
The CDC recommend that people wear cloth face coverings in public, particularly in areas with high levels of community-based transmission. However, they stress that surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be reserved for medical staff. Read their guide on how to make cloth face coverings here.
In their recent update, the CDC explain that because a proportion of people with a SARS-CoV-2 infection show no symptoms, wearing cloth masks might reduce the chances of these individuals transmitting the virus to others.
They write: “It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. […] Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.”
Read more from the CDC here.
04/03/2020 17:51 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/03/2020 12:45 GMT — US makes up nearly a quarter of global confirmed cases
04/03/2020 11:45 GMT — China’s early travel ban may have prevented 700,000 new cases
A new study estimates that the social distancing measures implemented in China prevented more than 700,000 COVID-19 cases from developing outside of Wuhan between January 23 — when Chinese officials imposed a nationwide travel ban — and February 19.
Prof. Christopher Dye, from the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, and colleagues have used large sets of data from millions of people to track their movements within China.
The researchers accessed public health records and accounted for COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak in their analysis.
“Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response, there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan by [February 19],” says Prof. Dye.
“China’s control measures appear to have worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission — preventing contact between infectious and susceptible people,” Prof. Dye concludes.
Read the full story here.
04/03/2020 09:23 GMT — Research coalition to help low- and middle-income countries
A new coalition of experts from 70 institutions in 30 countries plans to accelerate COVID-19 research in low- and middle-income countries. Of an estimated 536 planned and current trials into COVID-19, only a small percentage are based in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, or Central and South America.
In a commentary published in The Lancet, the members of the coalition explain that although these regions have only registered small numbers of cases, few people have been tested. Moreover, numbers are expected to rise, and the countries’ health systems are unlikely to be able to cope with the expected surge in patients.
The WHO’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says, “We welcome the launch of this coalition, which takes advantage of existing multinational and multidisciplinary expertise in running clinical trials in resource-poor settings.”
She continues, “Although the epicenter is today elsewhere, we must prepare now for the consequences of this pandemic in more resource-constrained settings, or we stand to lose many more lives.”
Read the coalition’s press release here.
04/03/2020 09:15 GMT — Global cases surpass 1 million
As of Thursday, the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 1 million. This includes more than 53,000 deaths and 211,000 recoveries. The countries that have registered the most cases are the United States (over 245,000), Italy (over 115,000), Spain (over 112,000), Germany (over 84,000), and China (over 82,000).
To date, Italy has reported the most deaths (nearly 14,000), followed by Spain (over 10,000), and France (more than 5,300).
Read the latest coronavirus news here.
04/02/2020 18:18 GMT — MNT’s daily video update
04/02/2020 15:00 GMT — More than 200,000 people have now recovered globally
04/02/2020 11:23 GMT — Researchers report significant drop in social contacts after UK lockdown
A team of scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King’s College London, both in the United Kingdom, compared the number of direct contacts before and after the introduction of the lockdown measures in the U.K. The 1,356 adults taking part in the study self-reported data.
The data have not yet been through the peer review process.
“We found a 73% reduction in the average daily number of contacts observed per participant (from 10.8 to 2.9),” the authors write.
The researchers also estimated the virus reproduction number, or R0, which is the number of people that one person with the virus can pass it on to.
“This would be sufficient to reduce R0 from 2.6 prior to lockdown to 0.62 after the lockdown, based on all types of contact and 0.37 for physical contacts only.”
Prof Brendan Wren, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, commented on the findings:
“The preliminary study based on a large cohort of 1,356 UK adults suggests that the reproduction number can be decreased from 2.6 to approximately 0.62 through social distancing. This is encouraging and suggests that social distancing and hygiene measures can, in time, cut off the number of people that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect. The study is based on behavioral change, which is a “quick and easy way” of estimating the SARS-CoV-2 virus reproduction number, which is very useful, but would need to be validated by independent traditional methods like community testing.”
Read the full study here.
04/02/2020 10:28 GMT — CDC report investigates COVID-19 and the role of underlying conditions
A new report investigates the prevalence of underlying health conditions among individuals with COVID-19. The report shows that 78% of people who required admission to the intensive care unit had underlying health conditions.
The data, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published this week, confirm earlier findings from Italy and China.
The researchers had access to data from 7,162 people in the United States with COVID-19. Around 38% of these people had one or more underlying conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or a chronic lung condition.
The authors write that “persons with underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, and cardiovascular disease appear to be at higher risk for severe COVID-19–associated disease than persons without these conditions.”
The full CDC report is here.
04/02/2020 10:15 GMT — SARS-CoV-2: Viral shedding is most effective early on when symptoms are mild
A new study, appearing in the journal Nature, suggests that shedding of the new coronavirus in the upper respiratory tract is most efficient in the early stages of the disease, when symptoms are still mild.
The researchers examined viral shedding — that is, the ability to expel or excrete the virus — in nine COVID-19 patients from a hospital in Munich, Germany.
The patients were young-to-middle-aged and otherwise healthy. They received treatment for mild upper respiratory tract symptoms. The scientists examined samples from the patients’ throat and lungs, as well as stool, blood, and urine samples. They also analyzed mucus from their respiratory tract.
Results showed high levels of SARS-CoV-2 replication in the upper respiratory tract in the first week of symptoms for all patients. Two of the patients continued to show high viral levels until the 10th or 11th day.
More studies, in larger samples, are necessary.
04/02/2020 09:15 GMT — Chinese city bans eating cats and dogs
Today, the city of Shenzhen announced a ban on consuming cats and dogs; the ban will come into effect on May 1. This decision arrives alongside a larger crackdown on the sale and consumption of wildlife.
The first cases of COVID-19 occurred in people who had visited a wildlife market in Wuhan. Scientists also believe that the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic of 2003 started in animals.
Teresa M. Telecky, Vice President of the wildlife department of Humane Society International, said, “Shenzhen is the first city in the world to take the lessons learned from this pandemic seriously and make the changes needed to avoid another pandemic.”
More information here.
04/01/2020 12:15 GMT — US now makes up 22% of the global number of cases
04/01/2020 11:59 GMT — UK scientists suggest that loss of smell and taste are symptoms of COVID-19
A team of scientists from King’s College London, in the United Kingdom, have developed an app that allows individuals to self-report COVID-19 symptoms, or lack of symptoms, on a daily basis.
After analyzing data from 1.5 million users between March 24 and 29, the team found that 59% of people who had received a COVID-19 diagnosis experienced a loss of smell and taste.
Among those who had tested negative for COVID-19, only 18% reported a loss of smell and taste.
“When combined with other symptoms, people with loss of smell and taste appear to be 3 times more likely to have contracted COVID-19, according to our data, and should therefore self-isolate for 7 days to reduce the spread of the disease,” says Prof. Tim Spector, the senior author of the research.
Commenting on the findings, Prof. Trish Greenhalgh, from the University of Oxford, in the U.K., notes:
“This is an important study because it is the first to demonstrate scientifically and in a large population sample that loss of smell is a characteristic feature of COVID. The researchers also showed that loss of smell occasionally occurs in people who do not have COVID, and that not everyone with COVID loses their sense of smell.”
The findings echo calls by UK ENT, the professional body representing ear, nose, and throat surgery in the U.K., which issued a notice on March 23 suggesting that anosmia, or a loss of smell, could be a sign of COVID-19 in people who may otherwise have no symptoms.
Read more about the research here.
04/01/2020 10:54 GMT — White House predicts 100,000 to 240,000 COVID-19 deaths in the coming months
At a press briefing yesterday, White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx presented modeling data for the next few months. She warned that the number of deaths would likely lie in the range of 100,000 to 240,000, with a peak in cases forecast to occur around the middle of April.
This figure is based on the general population sticking to the containment measures, which are to stay in place until April 30.
Brix also explained that without these measures, as many as 2.2 million people in the U.S. could die from COVID-19.
“There’s no magic bullet,” Birx said. “There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors: each of our behaviors translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic over the next 30 days.”
Read more here.
04/01/2020 08:50 GMT — China begins reporting asymptomatic cases
As of today, China will include asymptomatic cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in their official reports.
As China returns to comparative normality, concerns of a second wave are ever present. Officials hope that this change in reporting will help minimize public fears.
Although China is still restricting travel to reduce the threat of imported cases, some officials are worried that asymptomatic individuals might spark a second wave. Currently, it is unclear how many people become infected with SARS-CoV-2 but display no symptoms.
Scientists estimate that around 1–3% of SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic, but, at this stage, it is not clear what role these individuals might play in the pandemic. Because asymptomatic carriers do not cough or sneeze, they are, perhaps, less likely to transmit the virus than carriers with symptoms. China’s change in reporting will help experts draw a clearer picture.
The full story here.
04/01/2020 08:28 GMT — FDA authorizes 2-minute COVID-19 test
Yesterday, the U.S. FDA approved another coronavirus test for use in emergencies. The test, designed by Bodysphere Inc., can return a diagnosis in just 2–10 minutes. The FDA have now authorized 22 versions of the COVID-19 test.
The latest test, called the COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid test, will only be available to medical staff. It can detect antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 in human whole blood, serum, or plasma.
According to the FDA, they are “providing unprecedented flexibility” to allow laboratories and manufacturers the ability to test and bring their products to the professionals who need them.
More details here.
03/31/2020 15:07 GMT Infectious disease expert calls for a ‘tremendous effort from everyone’
MNT recently spoke with Prof. Paul Kellam, a professor of virus genomics at Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom.
Prof. Kellam told us about the lessons he learned from his work on SARS and explained how he is collaborating with other researchers to develop a new coronavirus vaccine.
He urged those with COVID-19 symptoms to heed their government’s advice to stay at home. Prof. Kellam also told us how long he thinks the pandemic will last.
Read the interview here.
03/31/2020 14:30 GMT — Global COVID-19 cases exceed 800,000
According to the latest figures, there have been 801,400 cases of COVID-19, globally. This estimate includes 38,743 deaths and 172,657 recoveries.
The United States and Italy are the only two countries to have registered more than 100,000 cases — with 164,610 and 101,739 cases, respectively.
View more statistics here.
03/31/2020 11:41 GMT — Study estimates the rate of death from COVID-19 at 1.38% for confirmed cases
A new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases models the case fatality ratio, or rate of death, from COVID-19.
Looking at data from China and overseas, the team — led by Prof. Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom — estimates the rate of death to be 1.38% for confirmed cases of COVID-19.
When the team added unconfirmed cases into the dataset, the infection death rate stood at 0.66%.
However, age played a deciding factor. For those under the age of 60, the infection death rate was 0.15%, while for those over 60, it was significantly higher, at 3.3%.
03/31/2020 09:57 GMT — US reports more than 3,000 deaths
The United States has now recorded more than 164,000 cases of COVID-19, which is more than Italy, Spain, or China. The U.S. has also registered over 3,000 deaths.
With initial setbacks in testing, the U.S. has now tested around 1 million people, or just 3% of the population. According to the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have almost doubled in the past 4 days.
In New York City, officials have appealed for volunteer health workers as cases of COVID-19 fill their hospitals. U.S. health officials continue to urge people to stay indoors.
The story continues here.
03/30/2020 14:15 GMT — New York state deaths pass 1,000
Yesterday, coronavirus-related deaths in New York state passed 1,000. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city will run out of medical supplies “within weeks.”
In an interview for TIME magazine, de Blasio spoke about the city’s emergency medical system (EMS) being overwhelmed.
The system currently responds to about 6,000 calls per day, which is over 50% more than the standard average.
“This is unprecedented,” de Blasio told TIME. “We have never seen our EMS system get this many calls — ever.”
Read full story here.
03/30/2020 12:15 GMT — Intensive care units in the UK may soon run out of hospital beds
A live model predicts that demand for beds in intensive care units (ICUs) will quickly surpass supply in two regions of the United Kingdom.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge, U.K., have devised the mathematical model, which predicts that ICUs in London and the Midlands will run out of beds by around April 6, 2020.
However, the paper has not undergone peer review yet. Furthermore, its authors acknowledge that they used a number of assumptions to inform their model, which may turn out to be incorrect and bias the results.
To prevent this, the researchers are updating the model regularly, as more information becomes available.
Read more here.
03/30/2020 11:46 GMT — Is the anti-flu drug Avigan an effective treatment?
In recent weeks, an abundance of news stories have circulated about the effectiveness of an anti-flu drug called favipiravir (Avigan) in treating COVID-19. Medical News Today take a critical look at one of the two trials that examined its benefits.
The authors of the trial — which took place in Shenzhen, China — report that favipiravir cleared the virus in an average of 4 days compared with 11 days in the control group.
However, the small trial sample, the fact that it was not randomized, and the various differences between the two groups of patients cast doubt on the findings.
Read more here.
03/30/2020 10:49 GMT — Plasma transfusion shows potential in small trial
Transferring plasma from people who are recovering from COVID-19 to those with severe symptoms might be a viable treatment option, according to a small, recently published trial.
For this study, researchers transferred so-called convalescent plasma into five critically ill people with severe pneumonia who required mechanical ventilation.
Within 3 days, body temperature returned to normal in 4 out of 5 individuals, and their viral loads dropped significantly. Three have now been discharged, and two are in a stable condition.
The study authors explain, “The results highlight the possibility that antibodies from convalescent plasma may have contributed to the clearance of the virus and also the improvement of symptoms.”
They also note that this was a small, uncontrolled study, and that all five patients received antiviral agents, which could have helped reduce their viral loads.
Read the full study here.
03/30/2020 08:52 GMT — No new cases in Wuhan for 6 days
China has seen a steady drop in the number of new cases for 4 days in a row. On Sunday, there were 31 new cases in China, down from 45 on Saturday. In Wuhan, officials have reported no new cases for 6 days.
The government is now turning its attention to the economic damage that the outbreak has caused. Businesses are reopening, and people are beginning to recapture normality. The Chinese government is urging factories to reopen and has extended business loans.
Travel into the country is still heavily restricted, as officials are concerned about a potential second wave of infections.
More information on the situation in China here.
03/27/2020 14:12 GMT — UK’s prime minister and health secretary test positive for COVID-19
Over the last 24 hours, Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, developed fever and a cough. Today, a test confirmed that he has COVID-19. Following Johnson’s announcement, the health secretary Matt Hancock released a statement saying that he, too, had tested positive.
In a video posted to Twitter, Johnson said he plans to “continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. […] I want to thank everybody involved and, of course, our amazing [National Health Service] staff.”
Both Hancock and Johnson report that their symptoms are mild and that they are self-isolating.
Click here for more detail.
03/27/2020 10:34 GMT — WHO launch large-scale trial to test a range of coronavirus treatments.
The WHO recently launched SOLIDARITY, a multipronged study trialing a range of potential treatments for COVID-19, both new and old. The treatments they are testing include remdesivir, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir plus ritonavir, and lopinavir plus ritonavir and interferon-beta.
Medical researchers designed all of the treatments above for other conditions, but all have shown some promise against SARS-CoV-2.
Scientists originally trialed Remdesivir as a treatment for Ebola; chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are antimalarial drugs; doctors use lopinavir and ritonavir to treat HIV infections, and interferon-beta treats multiple sclerosis.
Read more about SOLIDARITY here.
03/27/2020 09:30 GMT — Study supports the theory that pangolins are the link between bats and humans
Earlier studies suggested that SARS-CoV-2 started in bats before moving into pangolins, and then, finally, into humans. Later studies concluded that snakes might be the missing link. However, the latest paper refutes this theory, adding more evidence that pangolins are the link.
Most scientists agree that bats are a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2. They also agree that to reach humans, the virus needs an intermediate host.
This was the case in earlier outbreaks. For instance, experts believe that severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) first moved from bats to civet cats before infecting humans.
Using larger datasets, the authors of the recent paper identified errors in the earlier analyses and concluded that “the pangolin [is] a missing link in the transmission of [SARS-CoV-2] from bats to human.” However, the authors also explain that we cannot yet rule out other intermediate hosts.
Read more about COVID-19 research here.
03/27/2020 09:03 GMT — Number of US cases surpasses China
As of yesterday, the United States have registered more cases of COVID-19 than China. At the time of writing, the U.S. have reported 85,991 cases, compared with China’s 81,782.
Officials in the most affected areas of the U.S. are increasingly concerned about the lack of medical equipment and hospital beds. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference, “Any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the healthcare system.”
Find out more about the situation in the U.S. here.
03/26/2020 14:38 GMT — MNT interviews WHO advisor Prof. David Heymann
Medical News Today recently spoke with WHO advisor Prof. David Heymann. We asked about his past experiences with SARS and MERS, what individuals can do to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and how long he thinks the pandemic might last.
We also asked whether he thought that the general public has a good understanding of the implications of the pandemic; he said:
“People need to understand that they can prevent themselves from getting infected by washing hands and by maintaining a physical distance from each other and that they can protect others by wearing a mask if they’re coughing and sneezing.”
Read the full interview here.
03/26/2020 13:05 GMT — CDC report community spread of the virus in 41 US states and one territory
03/26/2020 12:30 GMT — COVID-19 cases worldwide rise to over 487,000
03/26/2020 08:55 GMT — Number of deaths in Spain surpasses that of China
To date, Spain has registered more than 49,500 COVID-19 cases and over 3,600 related deaths, compared with China’s 81,700 cases and almost 3,300 deaths. This morning, Spain’s parliament voted to extend emergency measures.
This decision, which came after the country registered 738 deaths in a single day, will extend the country’s lockdown for another 15 days. The country has experienced a 10-fold increase in coronavirus cases since it declared a state of emergency on March 14, 2020.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “It is not easy to extend the state of emergency. I am convinced the only efficient option against the virus is social isolation.”
Read more about the situation in Spain here.
03/26/2020 08:41 GMT — The WHO’s director general calls for action
In a press conference yesterday, the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, recommended six key actions to defeat the pandemic.
He believes that although we may have missed our first opportunity, we can still stop the pandemic.
He says that legislation designed to keep people isolated will not defeat the virus alone. He explains: “We call on all countries who have introduced so-called ‘lockdown’ measures to use this time to attack the virus. You have created a second window of opportunity. The question is, how will you use it?”
Ghebreyesus recommends six key actions:
- Expand, train, and deploy the healthcare and public health workforce.
- Implement a system to detect every suspected case of COVID-19.
- Increase the production, capacity, and availability of testing.
- Identify, adapt, and equip facilities to treat and isolate patients.
- Develop a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts.
- Refocus the whole of government on suppressing and controlling the virus.
Read the full transcript here.
03/25/2020 16:15 GMT — COVID-19 is taking its toll on the mental health of frontline healthcare professionals
A recent study, involving nearly 1,300 healthcare workers from 34 hospitals across China, found that frontline staff were 52% more likely to have symptoms of depression than those not on the frontline.
This group was also 57% more likely to show symptoms of anxiety, 60% more likely to experience distress, and nearly three times more likely to have insomnia.
Read the full article here.
03/25/2020 12:05 GMT — COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpass 55,000
03/25/2020 09:46 GMT — Study confirms the importance of social distancing
A recent study underlines how COVID-19’s progress can be slowed by social distancing measures. The authors conclude that 90% of infections in Hubei province, China, were prevented in the period after social distancing began.
The study, which is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, used data from Hubei and statistical modeling. The scientists were particularly interested in individuals who showed no symptoms and were, therefore, interacting as usual. Lead author Prof. Wu Tangchun summarizes their findings:
“By our most conservative estimate, at least 59% of the infected individuals were out and about, without being tested and potentially infecting others. This may explain why the virus spread so quickly in Hubei and is now circulating around the world.”
Read more here.
03/25/2020 08:52 GMT — New York experiences another rise in cases
Yesterday, New York state experienced another swift increase in COVID-19 cases. New York City, with more than 8.5 million densely packed residents, has now reported 192 deaths.
The White House has advised anyone who has recently traveled to or from New York to self-isolate. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told a press conference yesterday:
“Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina, or out to far reaches of Long Island.”
Further information here.
03/24/2020 15:07 GMT — Tokyo Olympics postponed due to coronavirus
Today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that they will postpone this year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics until 2021. The move was backed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The event was due to begin on July 24 but, according to the IOC’s president Thomas Bach, it will now take place “no later than summer 2021.” The organizers of Tokyo 2020 and the IOC write, in a statement:
“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC president and the prime minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled […] to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games, and the international community.”
More information on the postponement here.
03/24/2020 14:54 GMT — US has potential to become new COVID-19 epicenter
According to Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson, the U.S. might soon become the new epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
She says: “We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential. We cannot say that is the case yet, but it does have that potential.”
At the time of writing, the U.S. have reported 46,485 cases of COVID-19. As Harris says, the U.S. has “a very large outbreak and an outbreak that is increasing in intensity.”
More detail here.
03/24/2020 13:24 GMT — United Kingdom begins its first day of extended lockdown measures
After an announcement from the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday, the U.K. has stepped up social distancing efforts with three new measures.
The measures involve: stopping public gatherings of more than two people who are not from the same household, closing all nonessential shops and community spaces, such as libraries and playgrounds, and directing everyone to stay at home as much as possible.
The only reasons to leave the house, according to the announcement, are to shop for basics, such as food and medicine, to receive or provide medical care, and to travel to or from work if working from home is not possible. Each day, one outing for exercise is permitted, either alone or with members of the same household.
See the full guidelines here.
03/24/2020 10:44 GMT — The number of deaths in Italy is starting to fall
Yesterday, the Italian civil protection agency reported the smallest increase in new deaths from COVID-19 for four days in a row and the smallest increase in new cases for five days in a row.
The number of new cases stood at 4,789 and the number of new deaths at 602.
“Today is perhaps the first positive day we have had in this hard, very tough month,” Giulio Gallera, the senior health official in Lombardy, the region in Northern Italy with the greatest case load, was cited as saying.
Read more here.
Other COVID-19 updates available here: