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COVID-19 live updates

  • The recent coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
  • Known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus has resulted in more than 8.3 million infections and 449,000 deaths.
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 has now been reported on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Keep up to date with the latest research and information about COVID-19 here.

06/18/2020 16:00 GMT — MNT video update: Prisons, race, and COVID-19

Prof. Eason was highly critical of the healthcare system and the disparities among different communities. He explained that some people’s health actually improves when they are in prison. 

His current research includes studying the extent to which people employed in prisons contribute to the community spread of COVID-19. He told us that most of the country’s prisons are located in rural communities with a higher number of Black residents, putting these communities disproportionately at risk during the pandemic. 

06/18/2020 09:01 GMT — 88% of US concerned about drug price increases due to COVID-19

A new Gallup poll asks whether people in the U.S. are concerned that the pharmaceutical industry will take advantage of the pandemic to increase drug prices. Overall, 55% were “very concerned” and 33% were “somewhat concerned.” Similarly, 79% were very or somewhat concerned about their health insurance premiums rising. 

Gallup contacted 1,016 adults to complete the survey. The responses also found that “evaluations of how the U.S. has responded to the outbreak itself are tepid.” Just 23% rated the response as “excellent/very good” and 57% rated it as “fair/poor.”

In the Gallup report, the authors write:

“As Americans brace for a potential second wave of coronavirus infections later this year, leaders would be advised to note that it is not just fear of infection or job loss that is causing concern but also fear of increased costs of prescription drugs, insurance premiums and healthcare generally.”

Read the report in full here.

06/18/2020 08:54 GMT — Refugee camps and COVID-19

A recent study, which appears in PLOS Medicine, investigates the impact that COVID-19 might have on refugee camps. Using a dynamic model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, the authors simulated how an outbreak might spread through a large refugee camp.

The authors focused on the Kutupalong-Balukhali Expansion Site in Bangladesh, which is home to more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. To date, there has been one confirmed COVID-19 death at this site, and 29 people have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The authors conclude that “a COVID-19 epidemic in a refugee settlement may have profound consequences, requiring large increases in healthcare capacity and infrastructure that may exceed what is currently feasible in these settings.”

Read the full study here.

06/18/2020 08:52 GMT — Could COVID-19 trigger diabetes? 

Individuals with diabetes are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms. However, in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, a panel of 17 diabetes specialists explain that some evidence shows that people may develop diabetes for the first time as a result of COVID-19.

One of the authors of the letter, Prof. Francesco Rubino, explains, “Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases, and we are now realizing the consequences of the inevitable clash between two pandemics.”

He continues, “Given the short period of human contact with this new coronavirus, the exact mechanism by which the virus influences glucose metabolism is still unclear, and we don’t know whether the acute manifestation of diabetes in these patients represents classic type 1, type 2, or possibly a new form of diabetes.”

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

06/17/2020 14:42 GMT — How COVID-19 turned my life upside down — a firsthand account of the new coronavirus

In an exclusive article written for Medical News Today, Paolo Fuà describes his experience of having COVID-19 during the early days of the lockdown in Italy.

In his account, Paolo explains how difficult it was for him to get tested for the new coronavirus, despite several attempts. He shares his worries for his family and gives us a glimpse into coping with the loss of his father to COVID-19. 

“Now, I’m back to normal life again, although nothing is normal anymore,” he writes. “After the arrival of the virus, everything has changed, and I really don’t know if we can go back to normal, to the world we used to know.”

Read the full feature here.

06/17/2020 14:38 GMT — Children are less likely to get COVID-19, say researchers

A new study estimates that children are only half as likely to get COVID-19 as adults over the age of 20. The research also proposes that only 21% of children aged 10–19 show symptoms when they have the new coronavirus.

In adults over the age of 70 who have the virus, 69% show symptoms, according to the data model that scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom describe in Nature Medicine

The authors used data from six different countries to build their model but acknowledge that their study has some limitations. 

Prof. Mark Woolhouse from the University of Edinburgh in the U.K., who was not involved in the study, comments that “[t]his evidence suggests interventions aimed at children, such as school closures, might have a relatively small impact on reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

Read the full paper here.

06/17/2020 09:31 GMT — How many people with coronavirus remain asymptomatic?

A review of several COVID-19 study cohorts indicates that around 40–45% of people who contract the new coronavirus do not show symptoms. Whether they pass on the virus is not entirely clear, but the study authors suggest that it is likely. 

The researchers, from the Scripps Research Translational Institute, in La Jolla, CA, assessed data from 16 study cohorts, including nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, and cruise ships, to pinpoint the proportion of people who remain asymptomatic after contracting the new coronavirus.

While the numbers varied among the studies, the team estimate the proportion of asymptomatic people with the infection to be 40–45%. “Asymptomatic persons can transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others for an extended period, perhaps longer than 14 days,” they write, although data on silent transmission is limited.

They also suggest that people who remain asymptomatic may nevertheless experience damage to their lungs as a result of the virus.

Read the full article here.

06/17/2020 08:53 GMT — Breakthrough in UK COVID-19 clinical trial identifies a common steroid as a treatment for severe disease

Clinical trial data from the United Kingdom show that dexamethasone can reduce deaths among COVID-19 patients on ventilators by one-third. The researchers have not yet published the data, but experts have welcomed the announcement. Dexamethasone is widely available and inexpensive. 

Scientists from the University of Oxford in the U.K. announced the preliminary results from the dexamethasone arm of their RECOVERY trial, which set out to test six different treatments for COVID-19. 

The clinical trial team treated 2,104 patients with 6 milligrams of dexamethasone once per day for 10 days and compared the results with those of 4,321 patients who received standard care without the drug. 

Dexamethasone is a steroid that doctors commonly prescribe to treat inflammation, allergic reactions, and immune-mediated conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

The overall mortality rate in the dexamethasone group was 17% lower than in the control group. More specifically, the 28-day mortality rate in patients requiring ventilation was 41% in those who received standard care and one-third lower in the group on dexamethasone. For patients on oxygen therapy who received standard care, the mortality rate was 25%, which reduced by one-fifth in the dexamethasone group. 

“Based on these results, one death would be prevented by treatment of around eight ventilated patients or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone,” the chief investigators explain in the press release. “Given the public health importance of these results, we are now working to publish the full details as soon as possible.”

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