Calls to poison control centers in March surged by almost 20% compared to the same period in 2019, according to a new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Associated with the increased use of cleaners and disinfectants is the possibility of improper use, such as using more than directed on the label, mixing multiple chemical products together, not wearing protective gear, and applying in poorly ventilated areas.
Link to report: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6916e1.htm
looking at impacts of coverage of COVID-19 by two Fox News shows in the United
States – Hannity and Tucker
Carlson Tonight – on viewers’ behavior and downstream health
outcomes. Carlson warned viewers about the threat posed by the coronavirus from
early February, while Hannity originally dismissed the risks associated with
the virus before gradually adjusting his position starting late
February. Hannity’s viewers changed behavior in response to the
virus later than other Fox News viewers, while Carlson’s viewers changed
behavior earlier. Greater viewership of Hannity relative to Tucker
Carlson Tonight is strongly associated with a greater number
of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic. The
researchers say that provision of misinformation in the early stages of a
pandemic can have important consequences for how a disease ultimately affects
Link to paper: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3580487
This is a well-written statement entitled “When Confronting a Pandemic, We Must Save Nature to Save Ourselves” from the Centre for American Progress. The statement says COVID-19 outbreak has laid bare the need for a more proactive and integrated approach to fight infectious disease epidemics, which are becoming more common in many regions around the world. Specifically, we need to address the problem at its root: the destruction of nature. Nature is connected to human health, from the inherent mechanisms through which ecosystems regulate the emergence of new pathogens to the health benefits of spending time outdoors. But in our destruction of earth’s natural resources, we are losing these free services and reducing our resilience to new diseases.
Link to PDF: When Confronting a Pandemic, We Must Save Nature to Save Ourselves
A pre-print of the results of a study of 386 coronavirus patients in a US government hospital for military veterans found more deaths among those treated with hydroxychloroquine than those treated with standard care. These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of this drug, say the authors of the study.
Link to article: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.16.20065920v2
This is an article in National Geographic and not a scientific paper but it shows with graphs and a lot of references that social distancing isn’t a new idea and it saved thousands of American lives during the last great pandemic in 1918.
Link to article: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/03/how-cities-flattened-curve-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-coronavirus/
New evidence has emerged from China indicating that the large
majority of coronavirus infections do not result in symptoms. Experts say that
it was quite likely that the virus had been circulating for longer than
generally believed and that large swathes of the population had already been
Link to article: https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1375
New important research shows early ‘evolutionary paths’ of COVID-19 in humans – as the infection spread from Wuhan out to Europe and North America – using genetic network techniques. The research revealed three distinct ‘variants’ of COVID-19, consisting of clusters of closely related lineages, which they label ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. Variant ‘A’, most closely related to the virus found in both bats and pangolins, is described as ‘the root of the outbreak’. Type ‘B’ is derived from ‘A’, separated by two mutations, then ‘C’ is in turn a “daughter” of ‘B’.
Link to article: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/04/07/2004999117
MIT has developed a model to determine the efficacy of quarantine
measures and better predict the spread of the virus. The model found that in places where strong
measures were implemented quickly, the quarantine effort could effectively curb
the spread of the virus. In places where the quarantine efforts were rolled out
slowly, the effort to slow the spread has been less effective. The model
predicts when the coronavirus ‘plateau’ will take place, finding that the cases
aren’t likely to start stagnating until some time between April 15 and April
20. It says that restrictions on quarantine can only be made when multiple
conditions are met, including when the transmission is controlled, hospitals
have capacities to meet all the needs of the public, workplaces have effective
preventative measures in place, and more.
Link to article: http://news.mit.edu/2020/new-model-quantifies-impact-quarantine-measures-covid-19-spread-0416
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa. The health crisis has precipitated
an economic crisis reflecting three large shocks: disruption of production and
a sharp reduction in demand; spillovers from a sharp deterioration in global
growth and tighter financial conditions; and a severe decline in commodity
prices. As a result, the region’s economy is projected to contract by 1.6
percent this year—the worst-reading on record. Some economies such as this highly
dependent on tourism are expected to shrink further.
Link to publication: https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/REO/SSA/Issues/2020/04/01/sreo0420
The paper published on March 27 by the American Enterprise Institute compared the economic costs of businesses staying closed, which causes a steep drop in the gross domestic product, with the economic benefits of a lockdown. The research found that for at least two more months, the economic benefits of controlling the virus and preventing illness and death are greater than the economic cost of closing most non-essential businesses. It also found that even after the lockdown is lifted, we must keep in place more moderate measures, such as wearing face masks and limiting public gatherings, until a vaccine or an effective drug or treatment becomes widely available.
Link to paper: https://www.aei.org/research-products/working-paper/determining-the-optimal-duration-of-the-covid-19-suppression-policy-a-cost-benefit-analysis/
New genetic analysis of
SARS-CoV-2 and related coronaviruses suggests the ancestor of
COVID-19 and its nearest relative — a bat coronavirus — infected the intestine
of dogs, most likely resulting in a rapid evolution of the virus and its jump
into humans. This suggests the importance of monitoring SARS-like coronaviruses
in feral dogs. It is to be noted however that other experts have doubts.
Link to article: https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/doi/10.1093/molbev/msaa094/5819559
The paper projects that the US may have to endure social distancing measures — such as stay-at-home orders and school closures — until 2022, unless critical care capacity is increased substantially or treatment or vaccine becomes available. Another round of the virus is possible once social distancing measures are lifted. Even in the event of apparent elimination, SARS-CoV-2 surveillance should be maintained since a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024.
Link to paper: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/04/14/science.abb5793.full
Paper shows that wild mammals that were at risk of extinction owing to human activities carried twice the zoonotic diseases compared to animals that were not at the same risk. Among threatened wildlife species, those with population reductions owing to exploitation and loss of habitat shared more viruses with humans. This has increased opportunities for animal-human interactions and facilitated zoonotic-disease transmission.
Link to article: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2019.2736
About half of all Covid-19 deaths appear to be happening in care homes in some European countries, according to early figures. Snapshot data from varying official sources shows that in Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and Belgium between 42% and 57% of deaths from the virus have been happening in care homes (non-acute residential and nursing facilities that house people with some form of long-term care needs).
Link to PDF: Mortality associated with COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: early international evidence
A paper published in 2004 warning that wet markets provide optimum conditions for amplification and perpetration of disease agents such as influenza and the evolution of infectious disease agents.
Link to article: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(03)15329-9/fulltext
Study shows that by the end of February 2020 without non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in China– such as early detection, isolation of cases and social distancing – the number of infected people would have been 67 times larger than that which occurred. If NPIs could have been conducted one week, two weeks, or three weeks earlier in China, cases could have been reduced by 66%, 86%, and 95%, respectively, together with significantly reducing the number of affected areas. Improved disease detection, isolation of cases and social distancing are likely to a far greater positive impact on containment than travel restrictions, says the study.
Link to study: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.03.20029843v3
In a joint statement on April 8, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Rhythm Society cast doubts as to the safety of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for potential prophylaxis or treatment for COVID-19; both drugs are listed as definite causes of torsade de pointes” and increase in the risk of other arrhythmias and sudden death”, the statement says. In addition “seriously ill patients often have comorbidities that can increase risk of serious arrhythmias,” including hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, fever, and systemic inflammation, the groups said.
Link to PDF:
Considerations for Drug Interactions on QTc in Exploratory COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Treatment
How does COVID-19 kill? Uncertainty over whether it is the virus itself — or the response by a person’s immune system — that ultimately overwhelms a patient’s organs, is making it difficult for doctors to determine the best way to treat patients who are critically ill with the coronavirus. Clinical data suggest that the immune system plays a part in the decline and death of people infected with the new coronavirus, and this has spurred a push for treatments such as steroids that rein in that immune response. But some of these treatments act broadly to suppress the immune system.
Link to article: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01056-7
A new preliminary study shows a single 200 mL dose of convalescent plasma (CP) from COVID-19 patients who recently recovered shortened the duration of symptoms, improved oxygen levels and increased the clearance of the virus in patients who were still suffering from the disease. “One dose of convalescent plasma with a high concentration of neutralizing antibodies can rapidly reduce the viral load and tends to improve clinical outcomes”.
A new paper shows that the destruction of forests into fragmented patches is increasing the likelihood that viruses and other pathogens will jump from wild animals to humans.
Link to paper: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10980-020-00995-w
antibody recovered from a survivor of the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s has
revealed a potential vulnerability of the new coronavirus at the root of
Published in Science, the study is the first to map a human antibody’s interaction with the new coronavirus at near-atomic-scale resolution. Although the antibody was produced in response to an infection of SARS, which is caused by the SARS-CoV virus, it cross-reacts with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
Link to study: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/04/02/science.abb7269.full
Study showed that a single dose of the drug, Ivermectin, could stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture – effectively eradicating all genetic material of the virus within 48 hours. Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug that has also been shown to be effective in vitro against a broad range of viruses including HIV, Dengue, Influenza and Zika virus.
Link to study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354220302011
Cats can be infected with COVID-19 and can spread it to other cats, but dogs are not really susceptible to the infection, say researchers in China. The team, at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, also concludes that chickens, pigs, and ducks are not likely to catch the virus. Other scientists say the findings are interesting but note the results are based on lab experiments in which a small number of animals were deliberately given high doses of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and do not represent real-life interactions between people and their pets.
Link to article: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00984-8
A preprint of a study says that countries with mandatory policies to vaccinate against tuberculosis register fewer coronavirus deaths than countries that don’t have those policies.
Link to article: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340263333_Correlation_between_universal_BCG_vaccination_policy_and_reduced_morbidity_and_mortality_for_COVID-19_an_epidemiological_study
Disinformation and misinformation around COVID-19 continue to proliferate around the world, with potentially harmful consequences for public health and effective crisis communication. In the EU and elsewhere, coordinated disinformation messaging seeks to frame vulnerable minorities as the cause of the pandemic and to fuel distrust in the ability of democratic institutions to deliver effective responses.
Link to article: https://euvsdisinfo.eu/eeas-special-report-update-short-assessment-of-narratives-and-disinformation-around-the-covid-19-pandemic/
Comparison of face mask use recommendations by different health authorities. Despite the consistency in the recommendation that symptomatic individuals and those in health-care settings should use face masks, differences in recommendations were observed for the general public and community settings. Evidence that face masks can provide effective protection against respiratory infections in the community is scarce. However, face masks are widely used by medical workers as part of droplet precautions when caring for patients with respiratory infections. The study suggests vulnerable individuals avoid crowded areas and use surgical face masks rationally when exposed to high-risk areas.
Link to article: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30134-X/fulltext
In this pre-print a team from Harvard using mathematical model found that one-time interventions will be insufficient to maintain COVID-19 prevalence within the critical care capacity of the United States. Seasonal variation in transmission will facilitate epidemic control during the summer months but could lead to an intense resurgence in the autumn. Intermittent distancing measures can maintain control of the epidemic, but without other interventions, these measures may be necessary into 2022.
Link to article: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.22.20041079v1