Any so-called “herd immunity” strategy based on letting coronavirus infections spread unchecked is not only dangerous, but completely unsupported by scientific evidence, said researchers in an open letter to The Lancet. [Related Lancet article] [Related article in yesterday’s Tulane Outbreak Daily on the “Great Barrington Declaration.“]
Two studies find ties to infection susceptibility, severity, but with caveats. Additional evidence continued to suggest blood type may not only play a role in COVID-19 susceptibility, but also severity of infection, according to two retrospective studies. [Related study] [Second smaller study]
The Seattle-area nursing home resident first tested positive for the novel coronavirus in early March. He spent more than 40 days in the hospital with fever, pneumonia and difficulty breathing before testing negative multiple times and being discharged. Then, nearly five months later, he got sick again with COVID-19.
An indoor hockey game in Florida was the source of a COVID-19 outbreak, adding to the evidence that indoor sports may be at high risk for becoming super-spreading events, researchers found. During the 5 days following the game, 15 people, including 14 of 22 players and a rink staff member, developed COVID-19 symptoms, and 13 of 15 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, reported David Atrubin, MPH, of the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, and colleagues, writing in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The call for more widespread testing and isolation, Dr. Atlas wrote, “is grossly misguided.”Dr. Atlas went on to reference a theory that the virus can be arrested once a small percentage of the United States population contracts it. He said there was a “likelihood that only 25 or 20 percent of people need the infection,” an apparent reference to a threshold for so-called “herd immunity” that has been widely disputed by epidemiologists.
en months into the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, there is mounting frustration that life is not back to “normal.” Many U.S. schools and businesses remain closed, people are hesitant to fly and enjoy vacations, and in many places, restaurants and indoor activities are sharply limited, with severe economic consequences.
Eighteen days from the presidential election, the U.S. has more confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country, and cases are growing at a speed not seen since the summer peak.
In the absence of approved, effective treatments for COVID-19, some hospitals have been treating patients with severe COVID symptoms with blood plasma from recovering patients. The blood of recovered patients contains antibodies that act against the coronavirus. While plasma hasn’t yet shown a benefit in randomized trials, some small retrospective studies suggest it may reduce illness severity and reduce hospitalization time.
Typically, severely ill Covid-19 patients tend to arrive at the hospital because they’re having trouble breathing. That hasn’t been the case with MIS-A. Many MIS-A patients report fevers, chest pain or other heart problems, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues — but not shortness of breath. And diagnostic tests for Covid-19 tend to be negative.
Official Reporting for October 15, 2020
World Health Organization
Cumulative Cases: 38,789,204
Cumulative Deaths: 1,095,097
Confirmed Cases: 38 984 808
Deaths: 1 099 184
Confirmed Cases: 39,169,713
Total cases: 7,958,254
Total deaths: 216,917
City In China Tests 10 Million People After 13 COVID-19 Cases Are Found – NPR
Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott boosts COVID-19 resources in Amarillo, Lubbock, where hospitalizations are rising – Texas Tribune
Israel: Israel To Relax Its 2nd Nationwide Coronavirus Lockdown On Sunday – NPR
Europe Is Losing Fight to Stay Open on Record Virus Surge – Bloomberg
WHO concerned about Europe’s coronavirus outbreak as ICU beds near capacity in some regions – NBC
Science and Tech
From Germany to India, researchers are grappling with how to run labs and lessons under extraordinary restrictions.
The Surgisphere Scandal: What Went Wrong? – The Scientist
Researchers from the U.S. Army Futures Command, in collaboration with Houston Methodist, Pennsylvania State University, and UT Austin, tested alternative ways to measure COVID-19 antibody level resulting in a process that is faster, easier and less expensive to use on a large scale. Their method holds promise for accurately identifying potential donors who have the best chance of helping infected patients through convalescent plasma therapy.
A new National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trial, called ITAC, is being conducted by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. The trial will test the safety, tolerability and efficacy of a highly concentrated solution of antibodies called hIVIG (hyperimmune intravenous immunoglobulin) that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, when given with remdesivir compared to remdesivir alone. Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral that is currently recommended for treating certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19. An earlier trial showed that those who received remdesivir had a statistically significant shorter time to recovery compared to patients who received a placebo.
Scientists defended a World Health Organization trial showing that the antiviral treatment remdesivir doesn’t save the lives of Covid-19 patients after drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. criticized the findings.
One of the world’s biggest trials of COVID-19 therapies released its long-awaited interim results yesterday—and they’re a letdown. None of the four treatments in the Solidarity trial, which enrolled more than 11,000 patients in 400 hospitals around the globe, increased survival—not even the much-touted antiviral drug remdesivir. [Related preprint NEJM]
Oxford scientists working out of the school’s Department of Physics have developed a new type of COVID-19 test that can detect SARS-CoV-2 with a high degree of accuracy, directly in samples taken from patients, using a machine learning-based approach that could help sidestep test supply limitations, and that also offers advantages when it comes to detecting actual virus particles, instead of antibodies or other signs of the presence of the virus which don’t necessarily correlate to an active, transmissible case.
Pfizer’s Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla noted in a letter posted on its website that the filing depended on several factors, including data on effectiveness that may or may not be available by late October.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
Dating back to our earliest times, humankind has experienced the psychological impact of a wide range of catastrophes, including famines, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, windstorms, wars, and, last but certainly not least, outbreaks of potentially deadly infectious diseases. We are certainly no exception today as people try to figure out how to cope—and help others cope—with the grief, stress, and anxiety caused by biggest health challenge of our time: the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Clinical characteristics and outcomes in elderly with coronavirus disease 2019 in Beijing, China: a retrospective cohort study – Internal Emergency Medicine
SARS-CoV-2 Infection Rates in Skilled Nursing Facilities – JAMA
Repurposed antiviral drugs for COVID-19; interim WHO SOLIDARITY trial results – MedRXiv
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
When False Information Goes Viral, COVID-19 Patient Groups Fight Back –