From March 11 to May 11, COVID-19 was associated with four times as many expected deaths versus corresponding periods from 2017-2019 (incident rate ratio for all-cause mortality 4.15, 95% CI 4.05-4.24, whereas the 1918 flu pandemic was associated with almost three times as many expected New York City deaths versus corresponding periods in 1914-1917 (IRR 2.80, 95% CI 2.74-2.86) [Related JAMA article]
“All the citizens should be cautious in buying imported frozen meat products and aquatic products in recent days,” health officials have warned. Three Chinese cities have reported detecting coronavirus on imported frozen food over the span of four days, raising fresh concerns contaminated food shipments could lead to new outbreaks.
Over 20.7 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.
What’s the proper response to such a disaster? If you were the current U.S. government, you would shut down the Forest Service in the midst of the fire. At least that’s what’s happening now with the World Health Organization (WHO). On July 7, 2020, the President notified the United Nations that the United States plans to withdraw from the WHO (www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-who.html. opens in new tab). The full implications of this decision are not yet clear. The United States is responsible for the largest amount of funding for the WHO, 22% of assessed dues, and provides the largest voluntary contributions — to polio eradication, nutrition, and vaccine programs, for example. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, measles and polio campaigns have already been suspended in dozens of countries (www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/polio-measles-other-diseases-set-surge-covid-19-forces-suspension-vaccination-campaigns. opens in new tab), and these delays will be exacerbated by the withdrawal of U.S. financial support.
New Zealand officials are investigating the possibility that its first COVID-19 cases in more than three months were imported by freight, as the country’s biggest city plunged back into lockdown on Wednesday.
The intensive-care units at the Salvador Zubirán hospital in Mexico City have been operating at full capacity for three straight months—their beds filled with unconscious Covid-19 patients, positioned face down and connected to ventilators. Every person who dies or recovers is replaced within hours by another who is critically ill and in need of life support. “It’s a nonstop flow.
Why do some people get extremely sick with COVID-19, while others suffer benign symptoms? Three key molecules appear to play a crucial role, new research revealed this week.
Around 3.4 million people in England — 6% of the population — have contracted coronavirus, with infection rates twice as high in London, a major antibody study found. A mass survey of more than 100,000 people — which the government says is the biggest of its kind in the world — suggested the extent of the outbreak varied widely between different areas and population groups.
In closely watched unfolding pandemic developments, New Zealand today aired suspicions that surface contamination may have triggered a new cluster of COVID-19, and China’s media reported a reinfection in a woman who was sick 6 months ago.
Despite a mild case, it took months for Janet Shapiro, MD, to fully recover heart function. Janet Shapiro, MD, an ICU physician at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City, had just come back to work after a relatively mild course of COVID-19. She had lost her sense of smell and taste, and for a few days had a low-grade temperature and cough.
Adjusted LVO risk was more than twice that of patients who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. As many as 36% of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 may exhibit neurologic symptoms, according to a study from China. Altered mental status, dysarthria, aphasia, and diffuse corticospinal tract signs are among some of the common manifestations of COVID-19, and can also be seen in patients with acute ischemic infarction.
Several otherwise healthy college athletes with COVID-19 have myocarditis – inflammation of the heart. “You don’t really see the virus molecule in the heart, you see the body’s response to the virus,” says Dr. Raghu Tadikamalla, a cardiologist at the Allegheny Health Network.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus can cause the paralysis of key immune cells as the COVID-19 disease progresses, and this immune paralysis can be the difference between severe and mild cases of COVID-19, according to a study published in Science on August 11.
Official Reporting for August 13, 2020
World Health Organization
Confirmed Cases: 20,439,814
Confirmed Cases: 20,614,014
Confirmed Cases: 20,724,799
Total deaths: 165,148
Germany: German coronavirus tests backlog: 900 positive not yet told – ABC News
14 new Covid-19 cases reported – BBC
Science and Tech
In May, the antiviral therapy received an emergency-use authorization to treat Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, after a major trial found it sped recovery by about four days in hospitalized patients. It is already being used in clinical practice.
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced combined investments of $6.5 million in two commercial diagnostic laboratories to expand capacity to conduct up to 4 million additional SARS-CoV-2 per month. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. The investments in Aegis Sciences Corporation and in Sonic Healthcare USA will provide critical laboratory equipment supplied by Beckman Coulter Life Sciences and Thermo Fisher Scientific and increase staffing and infrastructure to allow the U.S. to perform an additional 1 million tests each week by early October.
The development of a vaccine to protect against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an urgent biomedical need. Yu et al. designed a series of prototype DNA vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which is used by the virus to bind and invade human cells. Analysis of the vaccine candidates in rhesus macaques showed that animals developed protective humoral and cellular immune responses when challenged with the virus. Neutralizing antibody titers were also observed at levels similar to those seen in humans who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The worldwide effort to create a vaccine for the novel coronavirus kicked off in January, soon after scientists in China posted online the genome of a virus causing a mysterious pneumonia. Vaccine development usually takes years and unfolds step by step. Experimental vaccine candidates are created in the laboratory and tested in animals before moving into progressively larger human clinical trials.
The Chinese company Sinovac Biotech developed an experimental vaccine for SARS back in 2004. That disease went away after killing just 800 people, and the project was shelved. But it meant that when the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, exploded in China last January, the company had a road map for what to do next. Four months later, it published evidence that it could protect monkeys against the disease using a simple vaccine made from killed virus.
An experimental vaccine is effective at preventing pneumonia in mice infected with the COVID-19 virus, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The vaccine, which is made from a mild virus genetically modified to carry a key gene from the COVID-19 virus. [Related study in Cell Host & Microbe)
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of millions of people and brought the global economy to the brink of a deep depression in merely a few months. This crisis has also spurred an unprecedented race to develop a vaccine. Currently, 30 vaccines are already in human clinical trials, eight of which were sponsored by Chinese labs. Multiple countries have also agreed to partner with Chinese labs for the last stage of human trials given that China doesn’t have large scale COVID-19 infections. There seems to be little doubt, then, that China could be among the countries that first produces a successful vaccine for COVID-19. There are several issues before large-scale benefits will accrue globally. Can China produce sufficient doses for its domestic use and for other countries? Which countries are likely to benefit?
Psychological & Sociological Impact
COVID-19 in children: analysis of the first pandemic peak in England – BMJ
Pre-Pub (not yet peer reviewed, should not be regarded as conclusive)
Coping in Quarantine
The Covid-19 pandemic has tightened our social circles and narrowed the scope of our lives in ways no one imagined just a year ago. But the lockdown also brought an unexpected solace: Everyone, it seems, turned to baking sourdough bread. Social media has been overflowing with photos of frothy sourdough starters — many of them named, like a family pet — and the fresh-baked loaves that result. And though peak sourdough may have passed, many a fridge still contains that jar of starter.