A person with a high viral load walks into a bar. That, according to researchers who study the novel coronavirus, is a recipe for a superspreading event — where one person or gathering leads to an unusually high number of new infections. And that kind of occurrence is increasingly considered a hallmark of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Nearly 800 genomes from Boston and its environs show that out of 80 introductions early in the pandemic, most went nowhere. And one exploded. None of the biotech executives at the meeting noticed the uninvited guest. They had flown to Boston from across the globe for the annual leadership meeting of the drug company Biogen, and they were busy catching up with colleagues and hobnobbing with upper management. For two days they shook hands, kissed cheeks, passed each other the salad tongs at the hotel buffet, never realizing that one among their number carried the coronavirus in their lungs. [Related pre-pub study]
Van Ranst’s assertion follows the news on Monday that researchers In Hong Kong announced that they had discovered the world’s first proven case of reinfection by Covid-19. The researchers are looking for other similar cases and are analysing the effects of this discovery on our immune system.
A re-infection with the coronavirus has been confirmed in the Netherlands, virologist Marion Koopmans, an important advisor for the Dutch government and the World Health Organization, said in response to similar news from Hong Kong. The Dutch patient is an elderly person with a weakened immune system, Koopmans said, NOS reports.
Infection in General Population Mirrors Pediatric Prevalence, UCSF Study Shows. As schools across the country continue to wrestle with configurations of online and in-classroom learning, a new study from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals shows that public data and a simple equation may be all that is required to estimate the number of infected students who might be in a classroom. The result may help school districts make tough decisions on whether it is safe for students to return to the classroom, and in what numbers. [Related article in JAMA Pediatrics]
Despite months of warnings that it’s unsafe, some Americans are still attempting to self-treat for coronavirus by drinking bleach products, prompting Georgia officials to send out a warning that doing so could be fatal.
Convalescent plasma, as it’s known, is a promising therapy, researchers don’t yet fully understand how well it works. Michelle Fay Cortez explains what the announcement means, and the concerns that agencies like the FDA are letting pressure from the White House, rather than science, guide their decisions.
The Environmental Protection Agency gave emergency approval Monday for the application of a cleanser that claims to kill COVID-19 on surfaces for up to seven days, and the state of Texas said it would allow American Airlines and two branches of Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine to start using the new product.
Three new scientific studies published this month show that the COVID-19 virus can spread in more ways than we once knew. Research from various parts of the world considered three separate factors in each study: low humidity, public restrooms and airborne dust. The implications from all three of these studies? Mask up!
In 45 years of combating forest fires, Wayne Patterson, the public information officer for the Grizzly Creek Fire burning near Glenwood Springs, has earned a keen sense of what smoke does to his body. One immediate effect is a sore throat and some sniffles. Over the years, Patterson said he has learned to tell when the smoke causes his symptoms, rather than a cold or the flu.
The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Since the emergence of novel coronavirus pneumonia in late 2019, it has quickly spread to many countries and regions around the world, causing a significant impact on human beings and society, posing a great threat to the global public health system. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was highly infectious, and some complications emerged rapidly in some patients, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, and multiple organ failure.
Official Reporting for August 25, 2020
World Health Organization
(last updated 8/24)
Cumulative Cases: 23,057,288
Cumulative Deaths: 800,906
Confirmed Cases: 23,673,902
Confirmed Cases: 23,736,101
Total deaths: 176,617
Alabama: University of Alabama reports more than 500 confirmed COVID-19 cases – AL News
Hawaii: Pacific Islanders Have The Highest COVID-19 Death Rate In Hawaii – Hawaii News
South Korea: South Korea closes most schools in Seoul area; first confirmed case of reinfection – CNBC
South Korea: Starbucks Cafe’s Covid Outbreak Spared Employees Who Wore Masks – Bloomberg
Hong Kong: Hong Kong to Relax Social Distancing Rules as Virus Cases Drop – Bloomberg
Science and Tech
In severe cases of COVID-19, damage can spread beyond the lungs and into other organs, such as the heart, liver, kidney and parts of the neurological system. Beyond these specific sets of organs, however, the virus seems to lack impact.
In late July, volunteers began receiving doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in the latest stage of a clinical trial at NYU Langone Health in New York City. The more than 1,000 names on the waiting list suggest the local response to the trial “has been outstanding,” says Mark Mulligan, an infectious disease specialist who directs NYU Langone’s Vaccine Center. “People are fed up with this disease and very motivated to help.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday warned against the notion of early emergency use authorization for a potential coronavirus vaccine, explaining that such a step could damage efforts to develop other vaccines. His comments come as White House officials have raised the possibility of an early emergency authorization before late-stage trials are finished, two sources have told CNN. Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the US Department of Health and Human Services, has denied that there was any effort to fast-track vaccine development for political purposes.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is actively spreading worldwide, affecting 188 countries and territories. At the beginning of the health crisis, Italy was one of the hardest-hit countries. Now the country sits 18th on the country list for confirmed cases with a case toll of 260,298 infections and over 35,000 deaths.
Social and Psychological Impact
More stress expected as lockdowns continue, people get sick, unemployment persists. Rare research on the effects of a pandemic undertaken during an ongoing disaster shows that COVID-19 has severely affected people’s daily emotional lives and mental health, increasing their stresses the longer lockdowns, fear of getting sick and financial strains continue.
Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children Without Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019 – JAMA Pediatrics
Pulmonary Vascular Dilatation Detected by Automated Transcranial Doppler in COVID-19 Pneumonia – American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care
Time Course of a Second Outbreak of COVID-19 in Beijing, China, June-July 2020 – JAMA
Coping in Quarantine
In this time of COVID-induced social distancing, we’ve come to rely on multiple video conference platforms to stay connected, both personally and professionally. If you’re not using Teams with colleagues or Blue Jeans with clients, you’re likely FaceTiming with family. We’ve all felt the fatigue of the litany of seemingly never-ending video calls, and it turns out that ‘Zoom Gloom’ is real—and it’s exhausting us.
Try this in your next Zoom meeting.