04/22/2021 14:56 GMT — How COVID-19 has changed the face of the natural world
Today is Earth Day, and to mark this occasion, Medical News Today published a feature exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the natural environment. The article outlines both positive and negative impacts and asks whether these observations might help us shape a better future.
04/22/2021 09:17 GMT — Oral drug successfully treats SARS-CoV-2 infections in hamsters
Scientists recently demonstrated that an oral antiviral called MK-4482 effectively reduces the impact on the lungs of SARS-CoV-2 infections in hamsters. Although the study was very small, other similar findings corroborate their results.
04/21/2021 09:06 GMT — B.1.1.7 variant 45% more contagious than original virus
A recent study, which appears in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, analyzed data from 300,000 polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests taken throughout Israel. The scientists conclude that the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is 45% more contagious than the original virus.
The scientists were able to chart the rapid spread of the new variant. They found that on December 24, 2020, only 5% of cases were attributable to the B.1.1.7 variant. By January 2021, the variant was responsible for 90% of cases. Today, that figure is around 99.5%.
Speaking about the results of the study, one of the authors, Prof. Ariel Munitz, says: “To explain this dramatic increase, we compared the R number of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with the R of the [B.1.1.7] variant. In other words, we posed the question: How many people, on the average, contract the disease from every person who has either variant? We found that the British variant is 45% — almost 1.5 times — more contagious.”
04/21/2021 09:04 GMT — European Medicines Agency finds ‘possible link’ between J&J vaccine and blood clots
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) — the European Union’s drug regulatory agency — has found a “possible link” between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and extremely rare blood clots. The agency also reiterated that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of side effects.
04/20/2021 14:55 GMT — UK: More than 10 million fully vaccinated
According to the latest figures, more than 10 million people in the United Kingdom have now received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. This equates to 19% of all adults. A further 33 million have had one dose.
04/20/2021 09:09 GMT — Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19: What are the side effects?
In a recent feature, Medical News Today outlines some of the most common side effects associated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The article also addresses concerns around allergic reactions and false claims regarding risks to pregnancy and fertility.
Officials in Delhi, the capital of India, have announced a 1-week lockdown after a significant spike in cases. On Sunday, they reported 24,462 new cases of COVID-19. Since April 15, India has been reporting more than 200,000 new cases each day.
For the next 7 days, government offices and essential services will remain open, but malls, cinemas, restaurants, public parks, gyms, and spas will close.
All social, religious, and political gatherings have been banned, and weddings and funerals are only allowed limited attendees.
In a press conference, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “I have always been against lockdowns, but this one will help us amplify the number of hospital beds in Delhi. This was a difficult decision to take, but we had no other option left.”
He also asked Delhi’s migrant workers not to leave the city. During last year’s lockdown, these people went back to their villages.
04/19/2021 08:58 — Over 50% of US adults have received COVID-19 vaccine
On Sunday, the United States government announced that 50.4% of all adults in the U.S. — 130 million people — have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 32.5% of the population are now fully vaccinated.
04/19/2021 08:49 GMT — Antipsychotic drugs may provide COVID-19 protection
According to a recent study, people treated with antipsychotics may have a lower risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, and if they do, they are more likely to have less severe COVID-19. The results of the new study appear in the journal Schizophrenia Research.
Read Medical News Today’s coverage of the research here.
04/16/2021 12:18 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 variant first identified in India now detected in UK
According to an update, Public Health England (PHE) has detected cases of the B.1.617 variant in the United Kingdom for the first time. Health experts first identified this variant in India. Currently, PHE classes it as a “variant under investigation.” In total, the organization detected 77 cases.
B.1.617 has two mutations in the spike protein. Scientists believe this might make it more transmissible and better able to avoid the body’s immune response.
According to Prof. Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., “These two escape mutations working together could be a lot more problematic than the South African and Brazilian variants, [which] have only got one escape mutation. It might be even less controlled by vaccines than the Brazilian and South African variants.”
However, at this stage, there is very little data on this variant. As Prof. Christina Pagel, director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit at University College London in the U.K., explains, “We do not know yet whether it can escape existing vaccines, but it has several concerning mutations.”
04/16/2021 09:04 GMT — People may need third vaccine dose within 12 months
According to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, people are likely to need a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 12 months of their second dose. Although more data need to become available to confirm this, he believes that yearly COVID-19 vaccinations might be necessary.
04/16/2021 08:44 GMT — TV news was the main source of early COVID-19 misinformation for some in the US
A new study finds that people in the United States who got health information from TV news during the early days of COVID-19 were the most misinformed. The second least knowledgeable group were those who got their information from Facebook. People who learned about COVID-19 from government sites were the most knowledgeable about the topic.
04/16/2021 08:38 GMT — Exercise and mental health during COVID-19: Study explores link, trends
A recent study finds that those who have remained physically active during the pandemic have done so primarily to maintain their mental health. For others, mental health problems have become a barrier to exercise. The new research appears in the journal PLOS One.
04/15/2021 12:20 GMT —Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains on hold in the US
It is unclear when vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the United States will resume. Experts on the independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held off on voting on their recommendations, asking for more time to gather and assess data on rare blood clots.
04/15/2021 09:00 GMT — COVID-19 and air pollution: What is the link?
In a recent review, researchers outline the evidence connecting air pollution and worse COVID-19 outcomes. They argue for stricter air pollution standards and taking action to end the disproportionate amount of air pollution in marginalized neighborhoods. The article appears in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
04/14/2021 08:56 GMT — ‘Mix and match’ vaccine trial expanded
A trial in the United Kingdom is investigating whether COVID-19 vaccines can be “mixed and matched.” The so-called Com-Cov study is recruiting people in the U.K. who have already had their first dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.
04/14/2021 08:24 GMT — Johnson & Johnson rollout paused in South Africa and Europe
Yesterday, the United States decided to pause rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following reports of incredibly rare blood clot events. South Africa has followed suit. The company has also delayed distribution in Europe.
04/13/2021 15:28 GMT — CDC and FDA halt administration of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the US
In a statement released to the press today — April 13, 2021 — a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and another for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the two federal agencies now recommend halting the administration of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine.
The spokespeople cited reports of six blood clotting cases that followed the administration of this vaccine, all of which occurred in adult women. They said that the CDC and FDA cannot support the vaccine’s continued rollout until a more in-depth investigation takes place.
Dr. Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control, has commented on this decision, calling it “a highly precautionary move.”
“The alert related to the AstraZeneca vaccine, where a similar association is considered possible, will have raised awareness of a possible association with other vaccines,” Dr. English said.
“Nevertheless,” he added, “the fact that such a small possible risk has been identified is very reassuring — it shows that pharmacovigilance systems are working.”
Read more about this story in our COVID-19 vaccine live blog.
04/13/2021 14:47 GMT — Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine side effects: Video update
04/13/2021 09:47 GMT — Asthma drug may speed up recovery
According to the preliminary results of a study, the asthma drug budesonide may speed up recovery from COVID-19. The researchers found that early treatment with the drug shortened recovery time by a median of 3 days. Budesonide is a corticosteroid that is widely available and inexpensive.
The interim analysis included data from 1,779 people with a SARS-CoV-2 infection and “risk factors for adverse outcomes.” The researchers provided 751 of the participants with a budesonide inhaler and standard care, while the remaining 1,028 received only standard care.
Although the results are encouraging, it is important to note that this paper is a preprint, so it has not yet been peer reviewed.
04/13/2021 08:59 GMT — Literature review shines light on ‘long COVID’
There have been numerous reports of people who survived COVID-19 developing various long-term health issues. In a new literature review, researchers provide a thorough overview of post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, otherwise known as long COVID. The review appears in the journal Nature Medicine.
04/12/2021 15:08 GMT — Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: What to know about side effects
In a recent feature, Medical News Today provides a rundown of the side effects associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The article also covers some of the recent controversies surrounding rare blood clotting incidents linked to the vaccine.
04/12/2021 09:49 GMT — Bhutan vaccinates almost all adults in 16 days
Bhutan, with a population of 800,000 people, recently vaccinated 93% of all adults within 16 days. This equates to 62% of the entire population. Although the nation received 150,000 vaccine doses from India in January, it only began the rollout in late March.
04/12/2021 09:25 GMT — COVID-19: 1 in 3 diagnosed with brain or mental health condition
A recent study suggests that in the United States in 2020, around a third of COVID-19 survivors received a diagnosis of a neurological or mental health condition within 6 months of their COVID-19 diagnosis. The findings appear in The Lancet Psychiatry.
04/09/2021 15:35 GMT — The United Kingdom may have achieved herd immunity, projections from University College London claim
Researchers from University College London (UCL) have recently updated their long-term forecast of the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United Kingdom.
In their latest release, UCL scientists say that their modeling study indicates that a “herd immunity threshold (of 73.4%) will be reached” on April 9, meaning that on this day, an estimated 73.4% of the U.K. population will have become immune to SARS-CoV-2 — by either having overcome infection with this virus or having received a full COVID-19 vaccine.
This contradicts previous UCL estimates, which indicated that herd immunity would be reached in the U.K. by mid-May.
Other researchers — unaffiliated with the study at UCL — have expressed doubts about the accuracy of these predictions.
For example, Prof. Paul Hunter — who is a professor in medicine at The Norwich School of Medicine at the University of East Anglia — has said that he is “quite skeptical of the conclusions reported by the Dynamic Causal Modelling group at UCL.”
“For any infection, herd immunity can only be said to have been achieved if a sufficient proportion of the population has acquired immunity either from immunization or natural infection to bring the R value below 1 [so] that the disease [will] ultimately disappear. But for herd immunity to really happen, that immunity has to last. At present, we do not know how long the immunity generated by immunization will last nor what impact the emergence and spread of new variants will have on vaccine effectiveness,” he noted.
Dr. Louise Dyson, an associate professor in epidemiology at the University of Warwick, has further commented that the UCL research “does not appear to be internally consistent.” She has observed that the UCL group’s definition of the “herd immunity threshold” and its understanding of “the history of the epidemic” in the U.K. have shifted with each monthly update.
“It would seem unwise to base any policy decisions on estimates that change so much in their understanding of the history of the epidemic, without investigating the reasons for such changes,” Dr. Dyson warned.
04/08/2021 13:45 GMT —First ever images show how cells respond to COVID-19 vaccine
For the first time, researchers have been able to obtain images of the spike proteins that develop on the surfaces of cells that have been exposed to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and compare them with the “original,” or “native,” spike proteins that characterize the new coronavirus.
Co-lead study author Max Crispin, who is a professor of glycobiology at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, said: “In this study we set out to see how closely the vaccine induced spikes resembled those of the infectious virus. We were really pleased to see a large amount of native-like spikes.”
“This study will hopefully provide further understanding for the public, helping them see how the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine works,” Prof. Crispin added.
“Many people may not realize how their cells become little factories manufacturing viral spikes that then trigger the immune response needed to fight off the disease. This may also provide reassurance that the vaccine is doing its job and generating the material that we need to present to our immune systems.”
To read more about the study and to see the images, click here.
04/08/2021 13:40 GMT —Brazil registers over 4,000 deaths in 24 hours for the first time
Brazil has registered over 4,000 deaths in 24 hours for the first time largely as a result of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, called the P.1 variant. This is more contagious than other variants.
The surge in cases has brought Brazil to a total death toll of 337,000. Overall, Brazil has recorded over 13 million cases of COVID-19. Globally, the country is second only to the United States in terms of both deaths and total case numbers.
04/07/2021 16:40 GMT —UK regulatory body issues new guidance for AstraZeneca vaccine
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom has held a press conference today to discuss the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In it, Dr. June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for “the vast majority of people.”
However, the risk-benefit analysis could be more finely balanced for young people, the experts said, as the risk of rare blood clotting incidents is higher in this age group than it is in older adults. The reasons for this increased risk, however, remain unclear.
Therefore, the MHRA recommends that people under the age of 30 who do not have a preexisting condition that may put them at a higher risk of COVID-19 should be given an alternative to the AstraZeneca shot.
Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, also explained that pregnant women should discuss the risks with their doctor before taking the vaccine. People who have had blood disorders in the past should only take the vaccine if they have decided, together with their doctor, that the benefits are greater than the risks.
Finally, people with a history of blood clotting should not take a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
04/07/2021 12:20 GMT — Moderna vaccine offers protection for at least 6 months, study says
A new study finds that, in 33 people who have received the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, antibodies persisted for 6 months.
Dr. Nicole Doria-Rose of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and her team tracked antibody activity in 33 participants who enrolled in the Moderna vaccine trials.
The participants were between 18 and over 71 years old. “Antibody activity remained high in all age groups at day 209,” write the authors. “Our data show antibody persistence and thus support the use of this vaccine in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” they conclude.
04/06/2021 17:30 GMT —MNT Video update: Monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19
04/06/2021 14:31 GMT —COVID-19 deaths pass 3 million landmark
According to a Reuters assessment, as of Tuesday, April 6, the total number of COVID-19-related deaths worldwide has surpassed 3 million.
This surge in death numbers corresponds to a recent risein COVID-19 cases in Europe and various countries around the world. In fact, according to Reuters, the highest increase in deaths has been reported in Brazil and India.
In Brazil, health experts attribute the surge in cases and deaths to an emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant called “P.1,” which appears to be more transmissible. The new variant may also increase the risk of death among the younger population.
The global increase in deaths is also worrying, Reuters notes. It took over a year for global COVID-19 deaths to reach the 2 million landmark. However, the third million cropped up in only approximately 3 months, according to the news organization.
04/06/2021 14:25 GMT —Large study finds no link between blood type and COVID-19 severity or risk
A new review of almost 108,000 patients concludes there is no link between blood type and COVID-19 risk or severity. The findings appear in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, from Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, UT, and colleagues, set out to investigate more deeply the possible connection between blood type and COVID-19 risk, following reports early on in the pandemic that people with type A blood may be more likely to develop the disease.
In the present study, of the total of 107,796 individuals — who were tested for a SARS-CoV-2 infection and whose blood type was recorded — nearly 11,500 tested positive for the virus. The researchers applied logistic regression analysis to examine the associations between all blood types and disease severity and risk.
“[W]e found no ABO associations with either disease susceptibility or severity,” write the researchers. “Given the large and prospective nature of our study and its strongly null results, we believe that important associations of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 with ABO groups are unlikely,” they conclude.
04/01/2021 11:34 GMT — COVID-19 linked to tinnitus, hearing loss, and vertigo
A recent review identifies associations between SARS-CoV-2 and tinnitus, hearing loss, and vertigo. Possible causes include infection of nerves, autoimmune damage, and blood clots. The review appears in the International Journal of Audiology.
04/01/2021 09:25 GMT — US death toll in 2020 was the highest ever
According to the United States government, 3.3 million people died in 2020, which is a 16% increase on 2019. This is the highest death toll that the country has ever experienced. An estimated 375,000 deaths were attributed to COVID-19, which was the third leading cause of death.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says, “The data should serve again as a catalyst for each of us to continue to do our part to drive down cases and reduce the spread of COVID-19 and get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
04/01/2021 08:51 GMT — Living with long COVID, 1 year on
To mark the pandemic passing the 1-year mark, Medical News Today has published an insightful first-person narrative written by someone who is experiencing long COVID. They chart their year-long journey, from the initial symptoms through to their ongoing recovery.
03/31/2021 08:27 GMT — How Black faith leaders help their communities get vaccinated
Although COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Black communities in the United States, vaccination rates in these communities remain low. A recent paper proposes that a coalition of Black faith leaders, public health officials, and Black medical professionals may be able to increase the number of people getting vaccinated.
03/31/2021 08:25 GMT — A common cold virus may help fight COVID-19
A lab-based study has found that a virus that causes the common cold can trigger an immune response against SARS-CoV-2. In theory, infections with the common cold virus could inhibit the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among members of a population and reduce the severity of infections.
A new preprint, which has not undergone peer review, draws links between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting events. The paper describes nine patients who “presented with thrombosis beginning 4 to 16 days postvaccination.” However, experts confirm that this is not a cause for concern.
03/30/2021 11:14 GMT —CDC Director Dr. Walensky warns of fourth surge
During a White House press briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), made an emotional plea urging Americans to “work together now to prevent a fourth surge,” in light of rising COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions.
Dr. Walensky pointed out that the United States had surpassed 30 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, that the rate of new cases had increased by 10% compared with the previous 7-day period, and that hospital admissions had gone from 4,600 to 4,800 per day.
“And deaths, which typically lag behind cases and hospitalizations, have now started to rise, increasing nearly 3%, to a 7-day average of approximately 1,000 deaths per day,” she explained.
Dr. Walensky compared this rise in cases to the spikes recently seen in European countries.
“And so I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends,” she urged.
Dr. Walensky also shared the results of a new CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), which assessed the rate of SARS-CoV-2 infections in 4,000 healthcare staff, first responders, and other essential workers.
“The study found that the risk of infection was reduced by 90% after individuals received the two recommended doses of the vaccine,” Dr. Walensky summarized the results. “The study also found that people starting to get a protective effect, even after the first dose, the risk of infection decreased by 80% after 2 weeks.”
03/30/2021 09:00 GMT — Multiple states open vaccines to all adults
As many experts fear a fourth wave, a number of states have extended vaccine eligibility to anyone aged 16 years or older. While certain areas might struggle to cope with the influx of newly eligible individuals, some experts are concerned that people with chronic conditions might get left behind.
03/30/2021 08:51 GMT — Mindfulness during a pandemic: Can it help?
A recent study explores online mindfulness classes as a means of helping people manage the emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. After an experimental online mindfulness session, 89% of participants reported that the experience had been helpful. The results appear in the journalGlobal Advances in Health and Medicine.
03/29/2021 11:59 GMT — Limited protection against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection in over 65s
A recent study suggests that a first infection with SARS-CoV-2 provides only 47% protection against a second infection for those aged 65 years and over, compared with 80% protection across all age groups.
The findings underscore the importance of physical distancing and vaccination, even among people who have already had COVID-19.
03/29/2021 08:59 GMT — Why COVID-19 policy should explicitly consider men’s health
In a recent opinion feature, researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, explain why COVID-19 policies in the United States should explicitly consider implications for men’s health during the pandemic.
03/25/2021 12:25 GMT —New SARS-CoV-2 variant carrying a double mutation
Scientists in India have identified a number of COVID-19 cases caused by a SARS-CoV-2 variant carrying two mutations in the spike protein. It is currently unclear if this variant is more infectious or causes more severe disease.
According to the BBC, the variant was present in 20% of cases in the Indian state Maharashtra, which has recently experienced a steep rise in new cases.
One of the variant’s mutations, E484Q, is similar to E484K. This mutation is familiar from variants that researchers in South Africa and Brazil have found.
The other mutation, L452R, is also present in variants of the B.1.427/B.1.429 lineage. Scientists in the United States identified this variant of concern, and some people refer to it as the “California variant.”
Read more about how scientists can adapt vaccines to match emerging variants here.
03/24/2021 09:17 GMT — Experts discuss the recent furor surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine
Yesterday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)released a statement regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine. The NIAID reported that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) had “expressed concern” that AstraZeneca may have included “outdated information” from their clinical trial in the United States.
This, they explain, might have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.
Dr. Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control says: “There is a single sentence behind this story: ‘The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.’ I find this problematic in various ways. It reads like a sentence from the conclusions of a paper but one that has been presented out of context, without any explanation of the reasons for drawing the conclusion or of what they think the consequences might be.”
He continues: “If you present data, stating the period in which the data were collected, how can the data be ‘outdated’[?] The AstraZeneca press release did say it was on ‘interim’ data. There may be more recent data, but that would not normally outdate or invalidate the interim results.”
Dr. English calls the National Institutes of Health (NIH) communication “shamefully bad” and worries that it might increase vaccine hesitancy.
03/24/2021 08:56 GMT — Aspirin may reduce deaths in severe COVID-19
Many people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 have excessive blood clotting, which can be fatal. A pilot study of hospitalized patients suggests that a low dose of the anticoagulant aspirin could reduce the need for mechanical ventilation and admission to intensive care, as well as the risk of dying.
03/23/2021 16:43 GMT — Israel and New Zealand approve Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray
This week, officials in Israel and New Zealand have provided interim approval for the sale of nitric oxide nasal spray (NONS). The product is manufactured by SaNOtize Research and Development. According to the company, the spray could help reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Nitric oxide has antimicrobial properties and can kill SARS-CoV-2. NONS works by targeting the virus in the upper airways, which prevents it from reaching the lungs. Because doctors have used nitric oxide as a treatment for many years, there are few safety concerns.
In a press release, SaNOtize outline the findings from a recent clinical trial. The trial included data from 79 people with confirmed COVID-19. The researchers concluded that NONS reduced the viral load by more than 95% in 24 hours and by 99% in 72 hours.
According to Chris Miller, Ph.D., the chief science officer and co-founder of SaNOtize: “NONS destroys the virus, blocks entry into and halts viral replication within the nasal cavity, which rapidly reduces viral load. This is significant because viral load has been linked to infectivity and poor outcomes.”
03/23/2021 09:16 GMT — A firsthand account of lockdown anxiety with a newborn
In a recent Special Feature, we hear the firsthand account of Marie Ellis. She relays her experience of caring for a newborn during a pandemic while home-schooling her 5-year-old. She speaks about how anxiety “broke” her.
03/23/2021 09:12 GMT — Global COVID-19 vaccine summary: Side effects
Currently, in various areas of the world, 13 COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use. In a recent Medical News Today feature, we summarize the known side effects of these vaccines and provide insight into the risks researchers are still investigating.
03/22/2021 09:41 GMT — Leprosy drug may help fight COVID-19
In an effort to combat SARS-CoV-2, and with the likely emergence of other coronaviruses, experts are looking for existing drugs that can fight these infections. In a recent study, a drug called clofazimine has shown promise against SARS-CoV-2 in hamsters. The drug is a treatment for Hansen’s disease, better known as leprosy.
03/22/2021 09:33 GMT — Skin swabs could be the next COVID-19 test
Researchers have developed a new method for testing COVID-19 that uses a skin swab. The skin swab test analyzes sebum, which is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands. The method is described in a paper that appears in The Lancet-EClinicalMedicine.
03/22/2021 09:30 GMT — Leap from bats to humans was easy for SARS-CoV-2
SARS-CoV-2 is part of a lineage of “generalist” viruses that infect many mammal species. According to a recent study that appears inPLOS Biology, the transition of the virus to humans was relatively easy, and there were few significant changes in its genome during the early months of the pandemic.
03/19/2021 11:58 GMT — COVID-19 deaths: CDC may underestimate risk for people of color
According to a study, the way in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report COVID-19 deaths may lead to an underestimation of racial and ethnic disparities. The authors argue that the approach the CDC have adopted fails to take into account factors that may influence the risk of COVID-19.
03/19/2021 09:00 GMT — Countries restart AstraZeneca rollout
Over the last few days, a number of countries halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine because a small number of people developed blood clots. This week, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine does not increase the risk of blood clots.
03/18/2021 14:07 GMT — Are pregnant women and their babies at risk of severe COVID-19?
An ongoing review confirms that pregnant women are more likely to develop severe COVID-19. It highlights preexisting conditions and ethnic background as contributing factors. However, the researchers describe the risk to newborn babies as “very low.”
03/18/2021 11:27 GMT — Links between COVID-19 and skin rashes
A recent study uncovers a significant association between skin rashes and a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. Researchers also found that more than one in five people with a SARS-CoV-2 infection reported skin changes as the only symptom of infection.
03/18/2021 09:31 GMT — Woman gives birth to baby with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies
This week, a partially vaccinated healthcare worker gave birth to a baby with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The mother received the Moderna shot when she was 36 weeks pregnant, and the baby was born 3 weeks later. Scientists detected the antibodies when they analyzed blood from the umbilical cord.
03/17/2021 09:03 GMT — Trump urges people to get vaccinated
In an interview on Fox News last night, former President Donal Trump urged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He said, “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”
A new study helps alleviate concerns that people may still be vulnerable to asymptomatic COVID-19 after vaccination. The researchers found that people who have had two doses of an mRNA vaccine are 80% less likely to develop asymptomatic COVID-19 than people who have not received the vaccine.
03/16/2021 09:07 GMT — China approves another vaccine for emergency use
This week, Chinese officials approved a fourth COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The protein subunit vaccine was developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Currently, there is no publicly available information in peer reviewed journals regarding the efficacy or safety of the vaccine.
03/16/2021 09:03 GMT — Is the B.1.1.7 variant more lethal?
A new variant of SARS-CoV-2, called B.1.1.7, was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020. Scientists have shown that it spreads more easily than older variants of the virus. A recent study adds to evidence that B.1.1.7 is also more deadly than previous variants.
03/12/2021 15:16 GMT — 1 year of COVID-19: Video summary
03/12/2021 12:20 GMT — Novavax vaccine effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants
According to a press release from Novavax, their vaccine candidate has an efficacy of 96.4% against cases of COVID-19 caused by the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, and 86.3% against the B.1.1.7/501Y.V1 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
03/12/2021 09:59 GMT — European Medicines Agency recommend Johnson & Johnson shot for authorization
Yesterday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended granting a conditional marketing authorization for the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 or older. This is the fourth vaccine recommended for use in the European Union (EU).
Read more on this story in our live vaccines update article.
03/12/2021 09:22 GMT — More P.1 variants detected in England
Yesterday, Public Health England announced that they had detected four more cases of the “variant of concern” VOC-202101/02. Also called P.1, the variant was identified in Gloucestershire and Bradford. In all, officials have now detected 10 P.1 cases in the United Kingdom.
“We shouldn’t pay too much attention to each day’s numbers,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Barrett, director of the COVID-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, in Hinxton, England. He continues:
“As we increase our sequencing capacity, we will continue to find infections with known and new variants of concern. Because cases are coming down, we are finding a larger proportion of all such infections each week — for instance, we’ve sequenced more than 20% of new cases for the past 2 weeks. This gives us the best possible chance to monitor and contain these variants.”
“It is no surprise that additional cases of infection with the P.1 variant [which originated in Brazil] have been identified,” says Prof. Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at the Warwick Medical School, in the U.K.
“This is a highly infectious variant, which is fueling the surge of infections in Brazil. […] Aside from this [variant] being more contagious, it is also likely to be partially resistant to current vaccines and may also be able to reinfect individuals who were previously infected with a different variant.”
Prof. Young explains the importance of reducing the spread of this variant, for instance by “ensuring strict border control measures and efficient surge testing to trace and isolate infected individuals and their contacts.”
03/12/2021 08:49 GMT — Mental health during the pandemic: 1 year on
A year on, a new Medical News Today feature investigates the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Referencing scientific research and multiple firsthand accounts, the article takes a broad look at the current state of the world’s mental health.
03/11/2021 09:24 GMT — COVID-19 and the kidneys: What we know so far
A large proportion of people with COVID-19, particularly severe COVID-19, develop acute kidney injury. In a recent feature, Medical News Today review the existing research on the links between COVID-19 and kidney health.
03/11/2021 09:22 GMT — 1 year of COVID-19 in a critical care department
Today marks the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical News Today contacted a number of healthcare professionals, asking them to provide an insight into the last 12 months. In this feature, we hear from Dr. James Evans, a consultant in critical care and anesthetics in the United Kingdom.
03/10/2021 08:48 GMT — Unhealthy heart may increase risk of COVID-19 diagnosis
The results of some studies suggest that a SARS-CoV-2 infection might impact heart health. However, a recent study published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research concludes that the relationship might be the other way around: People with poorer functioning hearts are more susceptible to COVID-19.
Lead researcher Dr. Zahra Raisi-Estabragh explains the findings:
“In this research, we’ve discovered that poorer heart structure and function is linked to a higher risk of subsequent COVID-19. This is important because some studies have suggested that COVID-19 may cause structural damage to the heart. However, these studies only use heart scans from people after infection, so they cannot be certain whether the poor heart structures preexisted COVID-19.”
She continues: “In our study, we used imaging data obtained before COVID-19, and showed that many of these abnormalities likely preexist and predispose people to COVID-19 rather than occur as a result of infection. This is a very important distinction for guiding our management of patients with COVID-19.”
03/10/2021 08:36 GMT — Russia to manufacture its Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Russian officials have signed a deal to manufacture their Sputnik V vaccine candidate in Italy. As it stands, the European Medicines Agency have not approved the use of Sputnik V, but a rolling review began last week.
03/09/2021 15:29 GMT — Can zinc levels predict COVID-19 severity?
A recent study examined the links between zinc levels in people hospitalized with COVID-19 and both disease progression and outcome. The authors found that participants with low zinc levels had a 21% mortality rate compared with 5% in those with healthy zinc levels.
03/09/2021 09:05 GMT — CDC: Fully vaccinated people in US can meet indoors unmasked
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their first set of health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. According to the document, people who are vaccinated can “[v]isit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.”
Read more on the CDC update in our live vaccine article.