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Tag Archives: COVID-19

Chart: China New COVID-19 Daily Cases Surpass Peak Hit in April 2022

Source : Nikkei Asia and The Economist

网文“十问卫健委”, 質問中國衛生主管機構10條防疫問題

有網民指問題盡訴心聲,認為當局須正面回應,平息民怨,亦有人笑言「結果第二天不僅文章被蔽,連號也沒了……這效率,可以。這效率如能用對地方,那就好了」

Source : 网络文章

There Might Be a Perfect Indoor Humidity to Curb COVID Spread

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

It’s sort of like the Goldilocks principle — a room that’s either too dry or too humid can influence transmission of COVID-19 and cause more illness or death, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say.

Maintaining an indoor relative humidity between 40% and 60% is associated with lower rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths, they reported Nov. 16 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Indoor conditions outside that range are associated with worse COVID outcomes, according to the report.

“There’s potentially a protective effect of this intermediate indoor relative humidity,” said lead author Connor Verheyen, a doctoral student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, in Cambridge, Mass.

The research team noted that most people are comfortable between 30% and 50% relative humidity. An airplane cabin is kept around 20%.

Until now, researchers have considered that COVID-19 could be influenced by the seasons, but they tended to examine the virus’ patterns in the context of outdoor weather conditions.

The MIT team decided that other researchers might be looking in the wrong direction, given that people in most places spend more than 90% of their time indoors. Indoor conditions also are where most viral transmission occurs.

For the study, the investigators combined COVID data with meteorological measurements taken from 121 countries.

They gathered COVID case counts and deaths from between January and August 2020, before vaccines were available, and then compared each day of data with an average estimated indoor humidity on that day.

For example, they reasoned that if outdoor temperatures fell below the typical human comfort range of 66 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, folks would crank on the heat — and thus cause indoor humidity to fall.

As a result, they found that indoor relative humidity tended to drop below 40% during colder periods, and that COVID cases and deaths also spiked at those times.

The team also found a gradual rise of indoor humidity during tropical countries’ summer season reflected in a gradual increase in COVID deaths as humidity went past 60%.

COVID-19 cases and deaths tended to increase when a region’s average estimated indoor humidity was lower than 40% or higher than 60%, regardless of the time of year.

Nearly all regions had fewer COVID infections and deaths when average indoor humidity hovered in the “sweet spot” between 40% and 60%, the study authors said.

“We were very skeptical initially, especially as the COVID-19 data can be noisy and inconsistent,” said co-researcher Lydia Bourouiba, director of the MIT Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory. “We thus were very thorough trying to poke holes in our own analysis,” she noted in an MIT news release.

Bourouiba said the team used a range of approaches to test the findings, including taking into account factors such as government intervention.

“Despite all our best efforts, we found that even when considering countries with very strong versus very weak COVID-19 mitigation policies, or wildly different outdoor conditions, indoor — rather than outdoor — relative humidity maintains an underlying strong and robust link with COVID-19 outcomes,” Bourouiba said.

The researchers aren’t sure why indoor humidity might have such an influence over COVID’s virulence, but follow-up studies have suggested that germs might survive longer in respiratory droplets in either very dry or very humid conditions.


Source: HealthDay

Damage to Health Mounts With Each New COVID Infection

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Every time a person gets infected with COVID-19, their risk of dying or suffering serious long-term health problems increases dramatically, a new study has found.

People with repeated COVID-19 infections are twice as likely to die and three times as likely to be hospitalized compared to those only infected once, according to the report published online in the journal Nature Medicine.

Repeat COVID-19 patients are also three times more likely to develop lung and heart problems, and 60% more likely to develop a brain condition, the researchers found.

“Without ambiguity, our research showed that getting an infection a second, third or fourth time contributes to additional health risks in the acute phase, meaning the first 30 days after infection, and in the months beyond, meaning the long COVID phase,” said senior researcher Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly. He is a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers also found that the risk rises with each additional infection.

“This means that even if you’ve had two COVID-19 infections, it’s better to avoid a third,” Al-Aly said in a university news release. “And if you’ve had three infections, it’s best to avoid the fourth.”

For the study, the investigators analyzed medical records of about 5.8 million patients treated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the nation’s largest integrated health care system.

The researchers compared nearly 41,000 people who had two or more documented COVID-19 infections with more than 443,000 people who had been infected once and 5.3 million others who were COVID-free between March 2020 and April 2022.

Most of the people who had been reinfected had gone through two or three bouts with COVID-19. A small number had four infections, and no one had five or more.

Statistical modeling assessed the health risks of repeat COVID-19 infections within the first month after contracting the virus, and then up to six months after.

The results pierce the “air of invincibility among people who have had COVID-19 or their vaccinations and boosters, and especially among people who have had an infection and also received vaccines,” Al-Aly said.

People who have had COVID-19 once should take every possible precaution to protect their health and prevent reinfection, he advised.

“Going into the winter season, people should be aware of the risks and practice vigilance to reduce their risk of infection or reinfection with SARS-CoV-2,” Al-Aly said.

He urged people to wear a mask, get all of their eligible boosters and stay home when they’re ill.

“Also, get a flu shot to prevent illness,” Al-Aly added. “We really need to do our best to reduce the chance we will have a twin-demic of both COVID-19 and the flu this winter season.”


Source: HealthDay

China Vows to Continue with ‘Dynamic-clearing’ COVID Strategy

China will persevere with its “dynamic-clearing” approach to COVID-19 cases as soon as they emerge, health officials said on Saturday, adding that measures must be implemented more precisely and meet the needs of vulnerable people.

The country’s strict COVID containment approach is still able to control the virus, despite the high transmissibility of COVID variants and asymptomatic carriers, an official from the China National Health Commission told a news conference.

China’s zero-COVID policy includes lockdowns, quarantining and rigorous testing, aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Asked if there would be a change of policy in the near term, disease control official Hu Xiang said China’s measures are “completely correct, as well as the most economical and effective.”

“We should adhere to the principle of putting people and lives first, and the broader strategy of preventing imports from outside and internal rebounds,” she said.

The briefing followed a week in which markets surged on hope China would relax restrictions, buoyed further on Friday when a former disease control official told a banking conference that China would make “substantial” changes to COVID policy in the coming months.

Some areas had been guilty of unscientific “one-size-fits-all” lockdowns, the officials said, singling out the southwestern cities of Nanchong and Bijie, and Zhengzhou city officials in central Henan province for deliberately turning thousands of citizens’ health codes red.

“We attach great importance to these problems and are rectifying them,” said Tuo Jia, another disease control official.

Epidemic-hit areas must meet the needs of the elderly, sick, disabled, young and pregnant, Tuo said.

Officials said they would begin a push to increase vaccinations among the elderly, noting that while 86.35% of citizens aged 60 and over are fully vaccinated, fewer people 80 and older have had vaccinations and boosters.

China reported 3,837 new COVID-19 infections for Friday, of which 657 were symptomatic and 3,180 were asymptomatic, a slight decrease from the six-month-high of 4,045 new COVID-19 infections reported a day earlier.

Officials in Guangzhou said on Saturday the southern megacity is facing its most severe and complicated outbreak in three years of the virus, with 111 new locally transmitted symptomatic and 635 asymptomatic cases reported for a day earlier.


Source : Reuters

Mouthwashes May Suppress SARS-CoV-2 That Causes COVID-19

Low concentrations of cetylpyridinium chloride, an antimicrobial agent present in mouthwashes, inhibit the infectivity of four variants of SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is an airborne disease transmitted via aerosols, which are spread from the oral and nasal cavities—the mouth and the nose. In addition to the well-known division and spread of the virus in the cells of the respiratory tract, SARS-CoV-2 is also known to infect the cells of the lining of the mouth and the salivary glands.

A team of researchers led by Professor Kyoko Hida at Hokkaido University have shown that low concentrations of the chemical cetylpyridinium chloride, a component of some mouthwashes, has an antiviral effect on SARS-CoV-2. Their findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Commercially available mouthwashes contain a number of antibiotic and antiviral components that act against microorganisms in the mouth. One of these, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), has been shown to reduce the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in the mouth, primarily by disrupting the lipid membrane surrounding the virus. While there are other chemicals with similar effects, CPC has the advantage of being tasteless and odorless.

The researchers were interested in studying the effects of CPC in Japanese mouthwashes. Mouthwashes in Japan typically contain a fraction of the CPC compared to previously tested mouthwashes. They tested the effects of CPC on cell cultures that express trans-membrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), which is required for SARS-CoV-2 entry into the cell.

They found that, within 10 minutes of application, 30–50 µg/mL of CPC inhibited the infectivity and capability for cell entry of SARS-CoV-2. Interestingly, commercially available mouthwashes that contain CPC performed better than CPC alone. They also showed that saliva did not alter the effects of CPC. Most significantly, they tested four variants of SARS-CoV-2—the original, alpha, beta and gamma variants—and showed that the effects of CPC were similar across all strains.


Antiviral efficacy of CPC against SARS-CoV-2 in cell cultures expressing TMPRSS2. For all of the four strains tested, a concentration of 40 µg/mL of CPC significantly reduced the viral titers, the number of virus particles. Asterisks indicate significant results (Ryo Takeda, et al. Scientific Reports. August 18, 2022).

This study shows that low concentrations of CPC in commercial mouthwash suppress the infectivity of four variants of SARS-CoV-2. The authors have already begun assessing the effect on CPC-containing mouthwashes on viral loads in saliva of COVID-19 patients. Future work will also focus on fully understanding the mechanism of effect, as lower concentrations of CPC do not disrupt lipid membranes.


Source: Hokkaido University

Chart: New York City Ride-Hailing Still Feeling Pandemic Crunch

Source : Statista

Chart: End of Covid-19 ‘in Sight’?

Source : Statista

Chart: U.S. 9-year-olds Reading and Math Test Scores Dropped

‍The national report card isn’t looking great. Data out this week revealed that 9-year-olds’ math and reading scores took a huge hit in the last two years — a worrying early sign of the pandemic’s impact on education.

Reading results are down some 5 points, the steepest decline since 1990, and math scores have declined for the first time since the National Assessment of Educational Progress began in the 1970s.


Source : Chartr

Low Testosterone Levels Tied to More Severe COVID in Men

Men with low testosterone levels may be more likely to have more severe illness when infected with COVID-19, according to a new study.

Treating men who have low testosterone with hormone therapy may reduce their risk of serious illness from COVID, researchers said, but it comes with other risks that doctors and patients will need to weigh.

The investigators analyzed the cases of more than 700 men who tested positive for COVID — most before vaccines were available.

Men with low testosterone (low-T) who contracted the virus were 2.4 times more likely to require hospitalization than men with normal hormone levels. But men who had been treated successfully for low-T before catching COVID were not more likely to be hospitalized.

“Low testosterone is very common; up to a third of men over 30 have it,” said study co-author Dr. Abhinav Diwan, a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“Our study draws attention to this important risk factor and the need to address it as a strategy to lower [COVID] hospitalizations,” Diwan said in a school news release.

Researchers had previously found that men hospitalized with COVID had abnormally low levels of the male hormone. But they didn’t know whether low-T is a risk factor for severe COVID or a result of it.

For that, they needed to find out whether men with chronically low testosterone levels — before illness or after recovering — were getting sicker than men with normal levels.

From two hospital systems in the St. Louis area, researchers found 723 men with COVID whose testosterone levels were on record. They identified 427 men with normal testosterone levels; 116 with low levels; and 180 who were being successfully treated for low levels.

They had confirmed cases of COVID in 2020 or 2021 and low-T either before or after their infection.

“Low testosterone turned out to be a risk factor for hospitalization from COVID, and treatment of low testosterone helped to negate that risk,” said co-author Dr. Sandeep Dhindsa, an endocrinologist at Saint Louis University.

Dhindsa noted that the risk “really takes off” when levels of testosterone in the blood are below 200 nanograms per deciliter. The normal range is 300 to 1,000.

“This is independent of all other risk factors that we looked at: age, obesity or other health conditions,” Dhindsa said in the release. “But those people who were on therapy, their risk was normal.”

The study suggests, but doesn’t prove, that low testosterone is an independent risk factor for COVID hospitalization, similar to diabetes, heart disease and chronic lung disease. A clinical trial would be needed to prove this link between low-T and severe COVID-19.

Low testosterone levels can cause sexual dysfunction, depressed mood, irritability, difficulty with concentration and memory, fatigue, loss of muscular strength and reduced sense of well-being.

Some doctors treat the condition only if a man’s quality of life is diminished, because testosterone therapy may increase his risk for prostate cancer risk and heart disease.

“In the meantime, our study would suggest that it would be prudent to look at testosterone levels, especially in people who have symptoms of low testosterone, and then individualize care,” said Diwan, a cardiologist. “If they are at really high risk of cardiovascular events, then the doctor could engage the patient in a discussion of the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy, and perhaps lowering the risk of COVID hospitalization could be on the list of potential benefits.”

The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.


Source: HealthDay