• Long after the Illness Is Gone, the Damage from Coronavirus May Remain

    The roulette wheel of infection that determines which COVID-19 patients live and die has gripped the world in fear, but researchers are looking into another insidious danger — that the disease could be inflicting lasting, even permanent, damage on its victims. Peter Fimwrite writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that infectious disease specialists have learned that the health problems caused by the coronavirus sometimes linger for months, raising fears that the virus may have long-term consequences for people’s health.

  • Nursing Homes Site of 40% of U.S. COVID-19 Deaths

    new analysis in USA Today suggests up to 40% of US deaths from COVID-19 have taken place in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, a staggering statistic that represents 40,600 residents. More than 2.4 million Americans live in long-term care facilities. Stephanie Soucheray writes in CIDRAP that this means roughly 450 residents of these facilities have died each day from COVID-19 since March. But the newspaper said this is likely an undercount, as state reporting is inconsistent. Texas, Virginia, and Arizona, for example, have still not released facility-level data.

  • Treating Mild Coronavirus Cases Could Help Save Everyone

    President Trump’s announcement two weeks ago that he was taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a measure against Covid-19, if true, is puzzling, because  scientific evidence is growing that the drug offers no benefit to Covid-19 patients and could be dangerous. Richard Malley and Marc Lipsitch write in the New York Times that Trump’s decision does highlight the urgent need to devote more attention and resources to drugs that can prevent COVID-19 or stop mild cases from getting worse. There is an urgent need to help the people most severely affected, but we think a parallel effort is equally urgent: conducting clinical trials to identify drugs that could prevent people from becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the first place or prevent mild cases of Covid-19 from becoming severe.

  • Virality Project (US): Marketing Meets Misinformation

    Pseudoscience and government conspiracy theories swirl on social media, though most of them stay largely confined to niche communities. In the case of COVID-19, however, a combination of anger at what some see as overly restrictive government policies, conflicting information about treatments and disease spread, and anxiety about the future has many people searching for facts…and finding misinformation. This dynamic creates an opportunity for determined people and skilled marketers to fill the void - to create content and produce messages designed to be shared widely.

  • COVID-19 Highlights the Need to Plan for Joint Disasters

    By Renee Cho

    June 1 is the official start of hurricane season in the U.S., and scientists are predicting a particularly active season, including more major hurricanes. We have also entered the time of year when floods, heat waves and wildfires occur more often. Over the longer term, climate change is causing more frequent extreme weather events. Rising temperatures also exacerbate the spread of disease and could make pandemics more difficult to control in the future. Considering that most risk studies in the past have been focused on single events, is the U.S. prepared to deal with the possibility of extreme weather events as well as a pandemic?

  • Age, Male Sex, Obesity, and Underlying Illness Emerge as Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19 or Death

    Age, male sex, obesity, and underlying illness have emerged as risk factors for severe covid-19 or death in the UK, according to the largest cohort study to date published by The BMJ today. BMJ says that the risk of death increases in the over 50s, as does being being male, obese, or having underlying heart, lung, liver and kidney disease.

  • Warmer Temperatures Slow COVID-19 Transmission, but Not by Much

    It is well known that rates of transmission of some respiratory viruses, including influenza, tend to fall during the summer months. As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, questions have been raised about whether warming temperatures, humidity and UV index might slow, or even halt, the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These effects on virus transmission will be important to understand as warmer months ease in and states across the country consider and implement reopening plans. Mount Auburn Hospital says that while the rate of COVID-19 incidence does decrease with warmer temperatures up until 52 degrees F, further warmer temperatures do not decrease disease transmission significantly. A higher UV index also assists in slowing the growth rate of new cases, but the overall impact remains modest. Precipitation patterns did not appear to have any effect on virus transmission.

  • Universal Virus Detection Platform to Expedite Viral Diagnosis

    The prompt, precise, and massive detection of a virus is the key to combat infectious diseases such as Covid-19. A new viral diagnostic strategy using reactive polymer-grafted, double-stranded RNAs will serve as a pre-screening tester for a wide range of viruses with enhanced sensitivity. KAIST says that currently, the most widely using viral detection methodology is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnosis, which amplifies and detects a piece of the viral genome. Prior knowledge of the relevant primer nucleic acids of the virus is quintessential for this test.  The detection platform developed by KAIST researchers identifies viral activities without amplifying specific nucleic acid targets.

  • Growing Evidence that Minority Ethnic Groups in England May Be at Higher Risk of COVID-19

    Evidence available to date suggests that minority ethnic groups in England, particularly black and south Asian people, may be at increased risk of testing positive for Covid-19, compared to people from white British backgrounds, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. Biomed Central reports that previous pandemics have often disproportionately impacted ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. While early evidence suggests that the same may be occurring in the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, research into the subject remains limited.

  • Pandemic and Responses to It Could Drive Violent Extremist Recruitment, Radicalization

    A new report from Reliefweb provides evidence on the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and response on violent extremist recruitment and radicalization. There are many drivers of drivers radicalization, and these drivers operate differently across individuals and communities — and may intersect. The COVID-19 pandemic and responses to it may amplify some of these drivers, acting as an additive factor.

  • Tracing Trouble Raises Fears of Second Coronavirus Peak

    In a blow to hopes for a more normal social life in the U.K. in the coming months, the modelers of  SAGE scientific group, which advises the British government, concluded that many things had better not go back to where they were. Chris Smyth and Billy Kember write in The Times quotes a SAGR report to say: “Even with contact tracing in place, there will need to be sustained, deep reductions in contacts outside work and schools to keep the reproduction number below 1.”

  • U.K. NHS Contact Tracing Undermined by Hackers Sending Fraudulent Warnings to Public

    The new NHS test and trace programme is being undermined by hackers sending out phishing scams falsely warning the public they may have Covid-19. Tom Morgan writes in The Telegraph that several public health directors have called for all forms of communication from contact tracers to involve two-step verification to eradicate the risk of scammers gaining confidential information.

  • It’s Not Whether You Were Exposed to the Virus. It’s How Much.

    When experts recommend wearing masks, staying at least six feet away from others, washing your hands frequently and avoiding crowded spaces, what they’re really saying is: Try to minimize the amount of virus you encounter. Apoorva Mandavilli writes in the New York Times that a few viral particles cannot make you sick — the immune system would vanquish the intruders before they could. But how much virus is needed for an infection to take root? What is the minimum effective dose? A precise answer is impossible, because it’s difficult to capture the moment of infection.

  • Is Herd Immunity Working in Sweden? The Reality of No Lockdown

    virus to spread through healthy populations while protecting vulnerable people. Louise Callaghan writes in The Times that it has not worked out quite that way, but that polls show that the majority of Swedes believe that the public health ministry is doing the right thing.

  • Norway Wonders If It Should Have Been More Like Sweden

    On Wednesday night, Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg went on Norwegian television to make a startling admission: she had panicked.Some, even most, of the tough measures imposed in Norway’s lockdown now looked like steps too far. “Was it necessary to close schools?” she mused. “Perhaps not.” Richard Orange writes in The Telegraph that no one doubts Norway’s success in bringing the pandemic under control. But this success has come at a prohibitive social and economic cost.