Just as more students head back to school, health experts are worried about a disturbing trend in much of the country: decreasing testing combined with high test positivity rates. In other words, Covid-19 is still spreading rampantly, but there’s less testing to find and isolate cases.
During the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States became a nation of novice hermits and amateur epidemiologists. The former battened down the hatches; the latter frantically tried to assess just how much danger we were hiding from. Between sourdough seminars and Zoom meetings, Twitter PhD theses were composed and defended seeking to pin down the “infection fatality rate”: the percentage of infected people, including the undiagnosed, who died from covid-19.
The U.S. attempt to return children to the classroom this fall has turned into a slow-motion train wreck, with at least 2,400 students and staff either infected with COVID-19 or self-isolating because of exposure, and the vast majority of large school districts opting to go online this summer amid rising cases of the virus.
People infected with COVID-19 do not necessarily have immunity to reinfection for three months, the CDC said late Friday night, trying to squelch speculation the agency had inadvertently stimulated. While people can continue to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 for up to three months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others, that does not imply that infection confers immunity for that period, the agency said.
California, Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Philadelphia are working on plans to transport and store vaccine and prioritize who will get the first doses.
Getting a flu vaccine this year is even more important than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to public health officials. “We should push for massive uptake of the vaccine this year,” said John Brownstein, who tracks outbreaks around the world as chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Everyone who is eligible should get it.”
Copies of the “travel authorization letter” were distributed to employees of Leslie’s Poolmart Inc. to display if they’re pulled over for violating shelter-in-place orders when they’re on the way to their shifts. They are vital workers in the coronavirus pandemic, according to Leslie’s, because the chain sells chemicals that can be used as alternatives to hand sanitizers and because swimming pools that aren’t properly cared for can be health hazards. Many of Leslie’s more than 900 locations remain open.
At the Bruneau-Grandview School District in rural southern Idaho, a couple of dozen teachers are crowded into the small library. They’re doing a refresher training for online teaching. In person-classes are scheduled to begin Monday, but with coronavirus cases continuing to rise in Idaho and other states, it’s an open question for how long.
Two studies of registry data presented at the 2020 virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and follow-up results from one of the studies published in late July shed some light on how patients with cancer are faring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A research team from the University Hospital at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) has developed a test that provides information on the immune response to the novel coronavirus in patients who need to take immunosuppressive drugs. This is necessary, for instance, following an organ transplantation.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was initially thought to primarily impact the lungs — SARS stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome.” Now we know there is barely a part of the body this infection spares. And emerging data show that some of the virus’s most potent damage is inflicted on the heart.
Official Reporting for August 14, 2020
World Health Organization
Confirmed Cases: 20,730,456
Confirmed Cases: 21,689,832
Confirmed Cases: 21,755,069
Total deaths: 169,350
Florida: Florida Just Reported Its Deadliest Week For Coronavirus – Forbes
Oklahoma: Oklahoma State sorority house placed in quarantine after 23 members test positive for Covid-19 – CNN
The Netherlands: Europe’s Biggest Pork Exporter Reopens Plant Shuttered by Covid – Bloomberg
Spain: Europe Clamps Down on NightLife to Regain Grip on Pandemic – Bloomberg
Costa Rica: Readies Horse Antibodies for Trials as an Inexpensive COVID-19 Therapy – Scientific American
New Zealand Covid-19 Coronavirus Outbreak Now At 69 Cases, Delays General Election – Forbes
South Korea Faces New Spike In COVID-19 After Months Of Low Infection Rates – NPR
Europe Battles Second Wave Coronavirus Lockdowns As China Goes Mask Off, Party Time – Forbes
Science and Tech
The body develops T cells when fighting an infection and they can create more antibodies if a person is exposed again. This means the immune system could remember how to fight Covid-19 even after original antibodies have faded.
Continuing shortages of reagents, viral transport media, pipettes and other supplies means 2020 will continue to negatively affect the nation’s COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing capacity. Given that sobering fact, the AMA and other organizations with expertise in medical testing are urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to ensure the nation’s limited testing resources go to patients with medically identified needs or to public health surveillance efforts.
The new, end-to-end qPCR workflow from Thermo Fisher Scientific is designed to minimize the potential for contamination of the food supply and risk to handlers and consumers. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that transmission of coronavirus is not likely to occur from handling or consuming food. Practically, the risk will be much lower from surfaces than from a direct respiratory droplet travelling through the air from an infected person. However, research shows that coronaviruses can survive on different surfaces for up to nine days under specific conditions such as temperature and humidity1. The risk, therefore, remains that SARS-CoV-2 transmission can occur when a healthy person touches contaminated food or food contact surfaces (including packaging materials) and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
How soon will the U.S. population see a COVID-19 vaccine? The answer seems to depend on who you ask. President Trump appears to be the most optimistic person in his administration. “It will happen before the end of the year — maybe substantially before, but before the end of the year,” he said Thursday in a press briefing. And only a week earlier, during a press briefing on the South Lawn, a reporter asked him, “You said that a vaccine can be ready around November 3rd,” which is Election Day. “Are you optimistic that that will happen?” Trump responded, “I am. I’m [optimistic] that it’ll be probably around that date. I believe we’ll have the vaccine before the end of the year certainly, but around that date, yes. I think so.”
Psychological & Sociological Impact
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, is a disaster due to not only its psychosocial impact but it also to its direct effects on the brain. The latest evidence suggests it has neuroinvasive mechanisms, in addition to neurological manifestations, and as seen in past pandemics, long-term sequelae are expected. Specific and well-structured interventions are necessary, and that’s why it’s important to ensure a continuity between primary care, emergency medicine, and psychiatry. Evidence shows that 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) survivors developed persistent psychiatric comorbidities after the infection, in addition to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A proper stratification of patients according not only to psychosocial factors but also an inflammatory panel and SARS-Cov-2’s direct effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system, may improve outcomes. The complexity of COVID-19’s pathology and the impact on the brain requires appropriate screening that has to go beyond the psychosocial impact, taking into account how stress and neuroinflammation affects the brain. This is a call for a clinical multidisciplinary approach to treat and prevent Sars-Cov-2 mental health sequelae.
Obesity and Mortality Among Patients Diagnosed With COVID-19: Results From an Integrated Health Care Organization – Annals of Internal Medicine
Anterior Pulmonary Ventilation Abnormalities in COVID-19 – Radiology
Pre-Pub (not yet peer reviewed, should not be regarded as conclusive)