NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: A commuter wears a face mask while riding a subway train on April 17, 2020 in New York City. Following a new order from Governor Andrew Cuomo that New Yorkers must wear face coverings whenever social distancing is not possible, the measure is the latest in a series of communal steps taken to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)Share on Pinterest
A commuter wears a face mask while riding the subway train in New York City.
Image credit: Scott Heins/Getty Images.
  • The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
  • Known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus has resulted in more than 23.6 million infections and 813,000 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.

08/25/2020 14:08 GMT — Scientists report first case of reinfection

A new study paper documents the case of a 33-year-old man in China who appears to have contracted SARS-CoV-2 twice. He was treated for a mild case of COVID-19 in a hospital in March and tested positive again almost 5 months later.

Scientists have determined that the virus of the second infection was genetically different from the virus of the first.

The paper has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. However, the authors, researchers from The University of Hong Kong, say that that their manuscript has been accepted by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

One of the authors, Dr. Kelvin To, writes, “This case proves that at least some patients do not have lifelong immunity.”

The researchers have only released parts of the paper online. In the text that has been made public, the authors argue that this case demonstrates that herd immunity is an impossibility and that a vaccine will not work.

However, other experts take a different view. For instance, Prof. Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, in the United Kingdom, explains:

“The implications of this finding should not be overstated. It is quite likely that subsequent infections do not cause as severe an illness as the first episode because of some degree of residual immunity, which may not be sufficient to stop the infection but [may] be enough to reduce the risk of severe illness.”

He also explains that the viral load might not be as high in a second infection. Rather than conclude that immunization will never work, Prof. Hunter writes, “We need more information about this case and other cases of reinfection before we can really understand the implications.”

Prof. Brendan Wren, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, calls for similar restraint: “With over 3 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the first reported case of a potential reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 needs to be taken into context. […] This is a very rare example of reinfection, and it should not negate the global drive to develop COVID-19 vaccines.”

Dr. Julian Tang, from the University of Leicester, in the U.K., also believes that we should wait for further details before deciding that a future vaccine will be useless.

For instance, he outlines a theoretical alternative, in which there is “an initial coinfection with two different SARS-CoV-2 viral clades — with one initial predominant clade, then with the other minority clade just persisting longer than the predominant one.” 

In other words, both strains could, potentially, have been present in the man from the start, with one strain simply surviving longer. Although theoretical, this possibility underlines the need for more detail before making wide-ranging conclusions.

It is also worth noting that, in this individual, the second case was asymptomatic. The man had undergone a routine test as he passed through a Hong Kong airport.

Read more here.

08/25/2020 10:36 GMT — Pandemic slows throughout much of the world

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) published their weekly epidemiological report. In the update, they explain that, although the pandemic continues, it is slowing in most regions. However, some areas are still experiencing increasing numbers of cases.

As the report explains, “With the exception of the South-East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean regions, a decrease in the weekly case incidence was reported across WHO regions in the last 7 days.”

Last week, the Americas remained the most affected region, accounting for 50% of new cases and 62% of deaths. However, the report explains that this region also experienced the largest decrease compared with the previous week.

Find the WHO’s report here.

08/25/2020 09:45 GMT — COVID-19: Children may have a higher viral load than adults

A recent study of pediatric COVID-19 patients finds that children have a higher viral load than hospitalized adults. The research, which appears in the Journal of Pediatrics, suggests children may contribute to the spread of COVID-19 more than previously thought.

Read MNT’s full coverage of the study here.

08/24/2020 10:32 GMT — Is COVID-19 more dangerous because SARS-CoV-2 reduces specific microRNAs?

The authors of a new study ask whether microRNAs (miRNAs) might help explain why the novel coronavirus is particularly deadly. They conclude that SARS-CoV-2 might reduce miRNA levels in a way that assists viral replication and blocks the host immune response. 

miRNAs are short, noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression. They also help fight viruses by latching onto viral RNA and cutting it. This means that if miRNAs are inhibited, viruses are more likely to replicate.

The authors of the new study found that SARS-CoV-2 may serve as a miRNA sponge, reducing levels of miRNA in the cell and making the virus more hazardous.

Read more about the new study here.

08/24/2020 09:50 GMT — Even mild COVID-19 may produce long lasting immunity

The results of a new study, which appear in the journal Cell, suggest that T cells could provide lasting immunity against future infection. This is even the case for individuals who had a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19.

Read more about the research here.

08/21/2020 09:43 GMT — Video update: Dreams during COVID-19

08/21/2020 09:41 GMT — Tool to help manage COVID-19 in patients with diabetes

People with diabetes have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Recently, a group of researchers developed an algorithm that they hope will reduce the risk of complications in these patients, such as respiratory distress and kidney failure.

In their study, which appears in the journal Diabetes, the authors describe the management strategies used with almost 200 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with high blood sugar levels.

Using these observations, they developed an algorithm to help doctors manage levels of blood sugar in people who have diabetes and COVID-19.

Read MNT’s coverage of the recent study here.

08/21/2020 09:30 GMT — Electric cooker can effectively sanitize N95 masks

N95 respirators are a vital part of healthcare workers’ personal protective equipment. However, people can only use them once, and they are now in short supply. A recent study demonstrates that dry heat from an electric cooker can effectively sanitize these masks without compromising their effectiveness.

The authors published their findings in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. They found that 50 minutes of dry heat at 212ºF (100ºC) successfully decontaminated N95 respirators.

Co-author of the study Prof. Vishal Verma explains, “The respirators maintained their filtration capacity of more than 95% and kept their fit, still properly seated on the wearer’s face, even after 20 cycles of decontamination in the electric cooker.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

08/20/2020 10:11 GMT — New York teachers threaten strike

Yesterday, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which represents 133,000 public school teachers, voiced concerns about the city’s return-to-school plan. They promised to strike or bring legal action unless the district implements tighter safety measures and an improved COVID-19 testing plan.

At a briefing, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “The minute we feel that the mayor is trying to force people into a situation that is unsafe […] we go to court, we take a job action.”

However, local laws state that public employees are barred from striking. During a school tour in Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “any union leader who talks about doing something illegal should really think twice about what he’s saying.”

Read more here.

08/20/2020 09:36 GMT — Will the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement change science and society?

Medical News Today recently published an opinion piece by Winston Morgan, Ph.D., from the University of East London in the United Kingdom. In the article, he discusses a recent review into why COVID-19 disproportionately affects people from marginalized racial and ethnic groups. 

He explains how the review’s “overwhelming message was that the cumulative effects of structural racism on BAME [Black, Asian, and minority ethnic] groups was the major contributing factor.” 

Morgan also highlights why large-scale societal changes need more than sentiment to become reality. He writes:

“Major changes require the transfer of privilege from those who have always benefited from it to those who have never had privilege, a step that many, even those who advocate equality, are reluctant to make when faced with real choices.”

Read the full article here.

08/20/2020 09:13 GMT — Dr. Fauci quizzed at Healthcare Website Town Hall meeting

This week, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci spoke about COVID-19 at a Town Hall meetingthat Healthcare Website organized. During the discussion, he spoke about children returning to schools, his hopes for a vaccine, and experimental treatments that scientists are currently exploring.

Talking about reopening schools, Dr. Fauci said, “The general default position to reopen schools should be to try as best as you can to open up schools for the psychological health of the children and the secondary downstream ripple effects of the family that might have to interrupt work to take care of kids.”

However, he also makes it clear that “you have to pay attention to the safety and health and welfare of the children and teachers as well as the parents and relatives. With that as a background, we live in a big country that has different levels of infections.”

Read our coverage of the meeting here.

08/19/2020 07:20 GMT — How a new blood test could help speed up vaccine development and population screening

In a recent interview, Medical News Today spoke with James Hindley, Ph.D., from Indoor Biotechnologies. We discussed a new T cell test that will help scientists as they design new vaccines and study how the immune system responds to the virus.

Read the full interview here.

08/19/2020 07:15 GMT — What can we learn from South Korea’s response?

In comparison with other countries, South Korea responded to the pandemic well, registering fewer deaths than some similarly sized nations. A recent article, published in The American Review of Public Administration, discusses South Korea’s response and the lessons that other countries can learn from it.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

08/182020 15:41 GMT — MNT video update: T cells and COVID-19

08/18/2020 10:45 GMT — According to WHO, people aged 20–49 are driving the pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) state people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are currently driving transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Many of these individuals are asymptomatic and unaware they have contracted the virus. This presents a risk to vulnerable populations.

Takeshi Takai, WHO Western Pacific regional director, explains: “What we are observing is not simply a resurgence. We believe it’s a signal that we have entered a new phase of pandemic in the Asia-Pacific.”

Read more here.

08/18/2020 10:24 GMT — Researchers call out lack of diversity in COVID-19 clinical trials

Marginalized people experience disproportionality higher rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death. Despite this fact, according to a new perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), they are significantly underrepresented in COVID-19 clinical trials.

The authors explain that clinical trials, in general, tend to lack diversity, and COVID-19 studies are no different. This fact makes it difficult to know whether interventions designed for COVID-19 will benefit those who are at most risk of the disease.

As an example, the authors explain that “[t]he modest benefit seen in time to clinical improvement with remdesivir may not be generalizable to minority populations, given the differences in disease severity and outcomes.”

Read our full coverage of the article here.

08/17/2020 10:42 GMT — Scientists revise COVID-19 incubation period to 7.7 days

In a new study, scientists analyzed data from more than 1,000 people who had contracted SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China. The team concludes that the average incubation period for COVID-19 may be longer than scientists had previously thought. They have published their findings in the journal Science Advances.

The incubation period of a disease is the time between the infection and the emergence of symptoms. Current estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 are 4–5 days.

However, the new study concludes that the median period is 7.76 days. The researchers also found that in 10% of cases, the incubation period was over 14 days, and in 1% of cases, it was more than 20 days.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

08/17/2020 09:52 GMT — How does weather affect COVID-19?

In a recent Special Feature, Medical News Today investigate which weather conditions are most associated with COVID-19 cases. We also investigate why studies into this matter appear to be contradictory and look at the factors that underpin this confusion.

Find the feature here.

08/14/2020 15:33 GMT — Video update: Possible mechanism for blood clotting identified

Read our full coverage of the study here.

08/13/2020 13:25 GMT — Almost 6% of UK adults have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2

In a recent study, 100,000 adults in the United Kingdom completed a home-based antibody test. The researchers found that almost 6% of the population has antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.

A team at Imperial College London conducted the study, called the Real Time Assessment of Community Transmission. The results are available on a preprint server and are awaiting peer review.

The authors show that, among other findings, the proportion of people with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies varies by region. For instance, 13% of adults in London tested positive for the antibodies, compared with only 3% of people in the Southwest.

Also, certain groups were more likely to test positive, such as healthcare staff and people who work in care homes.

The team also found that people who are Black, Asian, or of other marginalized ethnic and racial groups are more likely than white people to test positive for the antibodies.

Overall, 17% of Black people,12% of Asian people, and 12% of people of other marginalized ethnic and racial populations tested positive, compared with 5% of white people.

When the researchers accounted for age and key worker status, this gap was reduced. But, as the authors explain, race and ethnicity “remained important predictors, and reflect [a] starkly uneven experience of the COVID-19 epidemic across society.”

The scientists also noted differences across age groups. For instance, 8% of people aged 18–24 tested positive, compared with 3% of people aged 65–74.

From the data, the scientists calculate that the overall infection fatality ratio is 0.9%. This means that almost 1 in 100 people with a SARS-CoV-2 infection died.

“There are still many unknowns with this new virus, including the extent to which the presence of antibodies offers protection against future infections,” explains Prof. Graham Cooke, who led the study. 

He continues: “Using the finger prick tests suitable for large-scale home testing has given us [the] clearest insight yet into the spread of the virus in the country and who has been at greatest risk. These data will have important implications for decisions around ongoing control measures in England.”

Read more about the study here.

08/13/2020 10:33 GMT — COVID-19 and liver damage

Scientists recently analyzed liver tests from 1,827 hospital patients with COVID-19. They found that higher levels of liver enzymes appear to be associated with an increased risk of admission to intensive care and death. The results appear in the journal Hepatology.

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

08/12/2020 09:05 GMT — Russia first to approve COVID-19 vaccine

Russia has granted regulatory approval to the first COVID-19 vaccine, which they have named Sputnik V. The news comes after less than 2 months of human tests and before scientists have even begun phase III clinical trials.

According to Putin, “it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and, I repeat, it has passed all the necessary checks.” He also told the Russian media that one of his daughters took the vaccine as a volunteer.

The Gamaleya Institute in Moscow developed the vaccine, which will enter mass production by the end of 2020. According to Russian officials, medical personnel will be first to receive the vaccine, which is administered in two doses.

A few weeks later, teachers will be offered the vaccine on a voluntary basis. Officials plan to roll out the vaccine to the wider population in October.

Many officials are concerned that the vaccine has received approval before scientists have conducted enough research. This week, the Association of Clinical Trials Organizations, a trade body who represent the world’s top drug manufacturers in Russia, sent a letter to the health ministry.

In the letter, they urge the government to wait until the end of the phase III trial before approving Sputnik V. In it, they write:

“It is during this phase that the main evidence of a vaccine’s efficacy is collected, as well as information on adverse reactions that could appear in certain groups of patients: people with weakened immunity, people with concomitant diseases, and so forth.”

In an interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci said: “I hope that the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt that they’ve done that.”

Read more about the Russian vaccine here.

08/12/2020 09:01 GMT — New Zealand reports new cluster of cases

Today, after 102 days without local transmission, New Zealand reports a cluster of cases. Auckland, the country’s largest city, has returned to lockdown. Officials have registered four new cases of COVID-19 and suspect that another four people may have the disease.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, “Our plan of mass testing, rapid contact tracing and, of course, our restrictions to stop the chain of transmission has been in full swing in Auckland today.”

According to Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, one person with the disease works at a cold storage facility. Officials are working to find out if this could be the source of the outbreak.

Bloomfield explains that “we do know from studies overseas that actually, the virus can survive in some refrigerated environments for quite some time.”

Learn more about the situation in New Zealand here

08/11/2020 16:22 GMT — Video update: Interleukin-6 inhibitors may be most effective for severe COVID-19

08/11/2020 09:43 GMT — Could mouthwash reduce transmission?

A recent study investigated the possibility that certain mouthwashes could reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The team tested eight formulations in the laboratory and found that “oral rinsing might reduce the viral load of saliva and could thus lower the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

The results appear in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The authors are quick to note that researchers will need to carry out further tests to understand whether or not the beneficial effect translates to the clinic.

The researchers are also keen to explain that mouthwash cannot fully protect against COVID-19.

As study co-author Toni Meister says, “Gargling with a mouthwash cannot inhibit the production of viruses in the cells, but could reduce the viral load in the short term where the greatest potential for infection comes from, namely in the oral cavity and throat — and this could be useful in certain situations, such as at the dentist or during the medical care of COVID-19 patients.”

Read more about mouthwash and COVID-19 here.

08/11/2020 09:09 GMT — New Zealand records no transmission for 100 days

This week, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health published a media release stating that “[i]t has been 100 days since the last case of COVID-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source.” Currently, there are just 23 active cases of the disease.

In total, New Zealand has recorded 1,570 cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. Although their figures are low, Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield explains that “we can’t afford to be complacent.”

He continues, “We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand.”

Read the full media release here.

08/10/2020 11:27 GMT — US passes 5 million cases

The United States has now registered more than 5 million cases of COVID-19 and 162,000 related deaths. Brazil recently passed 3 million cases, India has registered over 2.2 million, Russia is approaching 900,000, while South Africa now has over 500,000 cases.

Find more statistics here.

08/10/2020 10:52 GMT — Dreams in the time of the coronavirus

Over recent months, many people have noted differences in their nightly dreams. In a Special Feature, Medical News Today discuss the nature of these changes. The feature includes interviews with dream experts, who explain why some people might experience this phenomena.

Read the full feature here.

08/07/2020 14:37 GMT — MNT Video update: Hope behind the headlines

Read the full “Hope behind the headlines” feature here.

08/07/2020 10:00 GMT — New antivirals kill SARS-CoV-2

A recent study demonstrates that newly engineered antiviral compounds can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in human airway cells. The compounds also improved survival rates in mice infected with MERS. The scientists published their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Read more about the research here.

08/07/2020 09:51 GMT — Mental health effects of COVID-19 revealed in new study

A recent study concludes that the pandemic has led to a significant increase in the prevalence of mental health issues in the United Kingdom. The paper, which appears in the journal American Psychologist, highlights some factors that have influenced people’s ability to cope with the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused global uncertainty, which has had a direct, detrimental effect on so many people across the U.K. and around the world,” explains lead author Dr. Hannah Rettie, from the University of Bath.

She continues, “People have been unsure when they would see relatives again, job security has been rocked, there is an increased threat to many people’s health, and government guidance is continuously changing, leading to much uncertainty and anxiety.”

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

08/06/2020 09:25 GMT — Mandatory BCG vaccination may slow spread of COVID-19

A recent study looked for a relationship between COVID-19 rates and bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination. The scientists conclude that countries that had compulsory BCG vaccination until at least 2000 seem to have built up a degree of “herd immunity” against COVID-19.

The study, which appears in the journal Science Advances, reports how having mandatory BCG vaccination significantly “flattened the curve” of the initial spread of COVID-19.

However, the authors note that researchers will need to continue investigating this effect. Theywrite: “BCG is by no means a magic bullet that assures safety against COVID-19. In all likelihood, there are some societal variables that moderate this effect. This variation must be addressed in future work.”

Read more about the study here.

08/06/2020 09:07 GMT — COVID-19 vaccine successfully protects macaques against virus

A recent study, which appears in the journal Nature, shows that a vaccine candidate effectively protects rhesus macaque monkeys from developing COVID-19. The vaccine uses a common cold virus to transport SARS-CoV-2 proteins into host cells, where they stimulate an immune response.

Read MNT’s full coverage of the study here.

08/05/2020 09:16 GMT — Latin America now pandemic epicenter

On Tuesday, Latin America passed Europe to become the region with the highest death toll. With more than 206,000 deaths, the region accounts for about 30% of the world’s total deaths. The worst affected countries are Brazil and Mexico, with more than 95,000 and 48,000 deaths, respectively.

The virus took longer to affect Latin America than other regions, but countries including Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia are now experiencing sharp increases in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Find more about the situation in Latin America here.

08/05/2020 09:07 GMT — COVID-19 deaths exceed 700,000

Today, the global number of COVID-19-related deaths passed 700,000. The United States has registered the highest number of cases (more than 4.7 million), followed by Brazil (more than 2.8 million), India (almost 2 million), and Russia (over 850,000).

Read more here.

08/04/2020 14:36 GMT — MNT video update: COVID-19 and children

08/04/2020 11:08 GMT — What role do young children play in COVID-19?

Many studies have concluded that children are less susceptible to COVID-19, and the latest review agrees with this assessment. However, the recent closure of a children’s summer camp in the state of Georgia due to an outbreak raises questions about children’s role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Read about the review here and the summer camp closure here

08/04/2020 09:39 GMT — Germany already experiencing ‘second, shallow upswing’

In a recent German newspaper article, Dr. Susanne Johna, president of Marburger Bund, a professional association and trade union for doctors, explained that Germany is already in “a second, shallow upswing” of COVID-19.

Although Germany has been relatively successful at reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, Dr. Johna believes that a slow reduction in physical distancing and hygiene regulations could set the country back. She calls for a renewed effort.

Read more here.

08/03/2020 11:33 GMT — Preventing a pandemic is 500 times cheaper than responding to one

According to a recent analysis, responding to a pandemic is 500 times more expensive than taking preventive measures. The new policy brief appears in the journal Science. The authors call for a worldwide shift toward preventive action.

They also identify factors associated with the risk of future pandemics, such as deforestation, so-called wet markets, and the global trade in wild animals.

Co-author Prof. Les Kaufman, from Boston University in Massachusetts, explains:

“There are many people who might object to the United States fronting money, but it’s in our own best interest. Nothing seems more prudent than to give ourselves time to deal with this pandemic before the next one comes.”

Read MNT’s coverage of the research here.

08/03/2020 11:29 GMT —  Victoria, Australia declares state of disaster

Yesterday, the Australian state of Victoria declared a state of disaster as COVID-19 cases rise. Although certain measures were already in place, officials are now introducing stricter rules. AsPremier Daniel Andrews explained: “We must go harder. It’s the only way we’ll get to the other side of this.”

The new measures include a curfew between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. People can only leave their house during those hours for medical treatment, work, or care-giving.

Residents of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, are only allowed to exercise within 3 miles of their home for no longer than 1 hour at a time. Only one person per household is allowed to shop for essentials.

Students are resuming remote learning, and childcare centers are closed. As of Thursday, restaurants, cafes, bars, and gyms will also close.

“We have got to limit the amount of movement, therefore limiting the amount of transmission of this virus. We have to clamp down on this,” said Andrews.

Read more about the situation in Victoria here.

31/07/2020 15:10 GMT — MNT video update

31/07/2020 11:33 GMT — Seasonal flu cases plummet

The global lockdown has caused an unprecedented dip in the number of cases of seasonal flu. The prevalence of other communicable diseases, such as mumps and measles, has also declined. In China, for instance, influenza infections have dropped by 90% since lockdown began.

Similarly, the United Kingdom and Australia have noted significant dips in cases of influenza, and officials in Canada have reported “exceptionally low levels.” South Korea reported an 83% decrease in influenza cases, compared with the same period last year.

Although the decline in influenza prevalence has eased pressure on hospitals, some experts worry that lower numbers of cases might reduce populations’ immunity.

Prof. Ben Marais, an infectious disease expert at the University of Sydney, explains, “It may be that if we don’t have infections this season, there will be more vulnerable people next season, [and] that is definitely something that we will have to carefully monitor. This season passed us by, it seems.”

Read more here.

31/07/2020 10:01 GMT — List of promising drugs against COVID-19 leads to new treatment trial

In a recent study, scientists analyzed a database of around 12,000 existing drugs that have been screened and approved for effectiveness, safety, and availability. From this list, they identified a number of promising compounds — and one, called LAM-002A, is now heading into a phase II clinical trial.

The authors published their list of potential treatments in the journal Nature. A company called AI Therapeutics owns the rights to LAM-002A and, in partnership with researchers at Yale University, they plan to continue studying the drug.

Prof. Murat Gunel, based at Yale and the chief scientific adviser to AI Therapeutics, explains: “LAM-002A holds promise to be a powerful new therapy for COVID-19 patients to prevent progression of the disease, hopefully avoiding the need for hospitalization.”

Find our full coverage of the research here.

07/30/2020 10:08 GMT — Promising early results from inhaled drug study

The preliminary results of a recent study show that an inhaled version of interferon-beta reduced breathlessness and increased the chances of recovery in people with COVID-19. The study included data from 101 patients at nine hospitals in the United Kingdom.

According to chief investigator Prof. Tom Wilkinson, “The results confirm our belief that interferon-beta, a widely known drug that, by injection, has been approved for use in a number of other indications, has huge potential as an inhaled drug to be able to restore the lung’s immune response, enhancing protection, accelerating recovery, and countering the impact of SARS-CoV-2.”

Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, the company that developed the new version of interferon-beta, explains that the drug “greatly reduced the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who progressed from ‘requiring oxygen’ to ‘requiring ventilation.’” 

He also reports that people who received the drug “were at least twice as likely to recover to the point where their everyday activities were not compromised through having been infected by SARS-CoV-2.”

Read more about the trial here.

07/30/2020 10:03 GMT — Seaweed extract may be more effective than remdesivir

The authors of a recent study conclude that extracts from seaweed might be more effective at treating COVID-19 than remdesivir, the current leading antiviral drug for SARS-CoV-2. The results of their study appear in the journal Cell Discovery.  

Heparin, a common blood-thinning agent, is extractable from seaweed. In the current study, the researchers focused on three variants of heparin and two related fucoidans, which naturally occur in seaweed. 

The scientists researched the possibility of using seaweed extract as a SARS-CoV-2 antiviral after studying the shape of the virus particles and how they function to deter a person’s normal antiviral defenses.

“It’s a very complicated mechanism that we quite frankly don’t know all the details about, but we’re getting more information,” explains corresponding author Prof. Jonathan Dordick. “One thing that’s become clear with this study is that the larger the molecule, the better the fit. The more successful compounds are the larger sulfated polysaccharides that offer a greater number of sites on the molecules to trap the virus.”

Read our full coverage of the research here.

07/29/2020 09:07 GMT — COVID-19 disruptions could lead to surge in infectious disease deaths

A recent study, which appears in Lancet Global Health, concludes that disruptions to health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to significant increases in HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria deaths over the coming years.

Using data modeling, the authors found that over the next 5 years, the number of HIV deaths could increase by 10%, tuberculosis deaths by 20%, and malaria deaths by 36%. Co-lead researcher Prof. Timothy Hallett explains:

“In countries with a high malaria burden and large HIV and TB epidemics, even short-term disruptions could have devastating consequences for the millions of people who depend on programs to control and treat these diseases. However, the knock-on impact of the pandemic could be largely avoided by maintaining core services and continuing preventive measures.”

Read our full coverage of the research here.

07/29/2020 09:00 GMT — Modified protein may help ‘speed up vaccine production’

Scientists have created a modified version of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. This innovation, they believe, could help speed up vaccine production. They hope that this could make the vaccine available to more people sooner. The researchers have published their findings in the journal Science.

As senior author Jason McLellan explains“Depending on the type of vaccine, this improved version of the protein could reduce the size of each dose or speed up vaccine production. Either way, it could mean more patients have access to vaccines faster.”

Find our coverage of the recent study here.

07/28/2020 15:52 GMT — MNT Video update: How has COVID-19 affected suicidality in the US?

07/28/2020 10:59 GMT — Head of China CDC injected with experimental COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Gao Fu, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recently announced that he had received an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. He hopes that this will help persuade Chinese citizens to get a vaccine once one has been approved.

At a webinar on Sunday, Dr. Gao said: “I’m going to reveal something undercover: I am injected with one of the vaccines. […] I hope it will work.”

“Everybody has suspicions about the new coronavirus vaccine,” he continued. “As a scientist, you’ve got to be brave. […] If even we didn’t do it, how can we persuade the whole world — all the people, the public — to be vaccinated?”

Read more here.

07/28/2020 09:31 GMT — Stroke risk higher for COVID-19 patients who smoke or vape

A recent review concludes that both smoking and vaping could increase the risk of stroke in COVID-19 due to damage to the blood-brain barrier and a higher risk of blood clots. The paper appears in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

One of the authors of the review, Luca Cucullo, Ph.D., explains: “COVID-19 seems to have this ability to increase the risk for blood coagulation, as does smoke. This may ultimately translate in higher risk for stroke.”

Read more about the review here.

07/27/2020 14:35 GMT — The first phase III candidate vaccine trial begins in the US amid rising numbers of cases 

Today saw the start of a phase III clinical trial to test whether the experimental COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273, which many know as the Moderna vaccine, can prevent COVID-19 in adults.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States continue to rise. 

The vaccine, which the biotech company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases codeveloped, will be given to half of the 30,000 volunteers in the study in two doses. The other half will receive a placebo.

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. had 59,737 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. South Carolina reported the greatest number of daily deaths and a 41% increase in deaths over the past 7 days.

Read more about the mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate here.

07/27/2020 12:01 GMT — How has COVID-19 affected suicide ideation in the US? 

A new study by researchers from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, highlights how many people are harboring thoughts of suicide during the pandemic. 

The team used questionnaire data from 10,368 adults in the United States and published their work in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.

About 10% and 15% of respondents fell into the categories of moderate and high risk, respectively, as per the Suicide Behavior Questionnaire that the researchers used. 

Some groups of people were disproportionately more likely to fall into the high risk category. These individuals included Black people, Indigenous Americans, Hispanic people, those who were born outside the U.S., and younger people.  

In their discussion, the authors report, “food insecurity appears to be an overwhelming circumstance that, for many, is becoming increasingly difficult to bear.”

Read our coverage of the results here.

07/24/2020 17:00 GMT — MNT video update: Hopeful findings from the last couple of weeks

07/24/2020 16:10 GMT — Protein innovation could greatly speed up vaccine production 

In the context of promising clinical trial results of new vaccines for COVID-19, researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin have come up with an innovation that may speed up the production of vaccines across the world. 

Most vaccines rely on training the immune system to recognize the key element that makes SARS-CoV-2 so harmful to humans: the spike protein. UT scientists successfully recreated a version of this protein and dubbed it HexaPro.

HexaPro is more stable and resistant to heat, making it easier to transport and store, as well as freeze and thaw several times. Furthermore, when expressed in cells, HexaPro produces almost 10 times more protein than other synthetic spike proteins in use in current vaccines.

“Depending on the type of vaccine, this improved version of the protein could reduce the size of each dose or speed up vaccine production,” says Jason McLellan, senior author of the paper that details the findings. “Either way, it could mean more patients have access to vaccines faster.”

Read more about the study here.

07/24/2020 14:20 GMT — Vaccine candidates show promising results

In the latest feature in our Hope Behind the Headlines series, we look at two much anticipated COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. One of these candidates is what many people call the Oxford vaccine, while the other comes from a team in China.

Both vaccines use weakened adenoviruses. Many of the trial volunteers experienced side effects, but these were mostly mild. 

In both studies, the majority of volunteers also developed neutralizing antibodies and showed T cell responses. It is not clear how effective these candidates will be in protecting people from COVID-19, but larger studies are ongoing.

Read our full feature here.

07/23/2020 14:35 GMT — US continues to see rising cases and deaths from COVID-19

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 1,047 people had died from COVID-19 in the United States in the past 24 hours. This is the highest daily death toll since early June, according to The Washington Post.

California overtook New York State and now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the U.S., while Texas had the highest number of new deaths. 

Read more about the situation in California here.

07/23/2020 10:24 GMT — Can a combination of antibodies neutralize SARS-CoV-2?

In a study in Nature, a team led by scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, investigated antibodies from a couple who had recovered from COVID-19. Two of these antibodies protected mice and macaques from severe COVID-19. 

The antibodies interfered with the viral spike protein binding to the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. 

The scientists note that other research groups have found that SARS-CoV-2 is able to evolve “escape mutations” to evade a single antibody, but not two antibodies in combination.

It is important to note that scientists have not tested these antibodies in humans yet. But there are planned clinical trials in collaboration with two pharmaceutical companies.

Read our full coverage of the research here.

07/22/2020 09:12 GMT — Trump changes stance to promote masks

At a press briefing, President Trump urged people to avoid crowded bars and wear masks when social distancing is not possible. He said, “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better — something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.”

In a break from his earlier rhetoric, he advised people that “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect. And we need everything we can get.” He said that he would wear his “gladly.”

Find more live updates here.

07/22/2020 09:09 GMT — Hydroxychloroquine fails to reduce COVID-19 symptoms

In a recent study, researchers conclude that taking the antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine shortly after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms does not significantly reduce symptoms or rates of hospitalization. The results appear in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The authors conclude that “Finding effective therapies against COVID-19 remains critical. Effective treatment of early, outpatient COVID-19 could decrease hospitalizations and, ultimately, morbidity and mortality. Hydroxychloroquine did not substantially reduce symptom severity or prevalence over time in nonhospitalized persons with early COVID-19.”

Find our full coverage of the study here.

07/21/2020 15:41 GMT — MNT video update: What does life in a ‘post-lockdown’ world look like?

07/21/2020 11:45 GMT — California experiences largest increase in cases since pandemic began

Yesterday, the state of California reported more than 11,800 new cases of COVID-19. This 1-day increase is the greatest since the beginning of the pandemic. In response, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, is placing fresh restrictions on businesses across the state.

Bars are closing, and indoor activities in zoos, restaurants, movie theaters, and museums will also cease. In the 30 hardest hit counties, Newsom has also ordered that gyms, churches, and hair salons must close.

California’s previous daily record was 10,861 cases on July 14. To put these numbers into perspective, California’s daily tally exceeds the daily numbers of any European country during the height of the pandemic.

Over the last few days, both Florida and Texas have reported more than 10,000 cases each day.

Read more here.

07/21/2020 10:59 GMT — Delaying COVID-19 emergency measures linked to higher mortality in US

A recent investigation concludes that at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, each additional day that states delayed declaring an emergency was associated with a 5% increase in mortality. The study appears in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an association between statewide social distancing orders and mortality during COVID-19,” explain the authors. “Our results support early social distancing as a nonpharmaceutical intervention for reducing mortality.”

Find MNT’s coverage of the study here.

07/20/2020 15:03 GMT Oxford vaccine phase I/II results show immune reactions

The adenovirus vector vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, more widely known as the Oxford vaccine, is safe and produces neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses. 

Writing in The Lancet, the authors explain that mild side effects were common, but that there were no serious adverse events. Taking prophylactic acetaminophen within the first 24 hours of the injection reduced side effects.

All volunteers who received the Oxford vaccine showed T cell responses within 14 days. 

Most participants developed neutralizing antibodies after one dose of the vaccine. Of 10 volunteers who received a booster, all had neutralizing antibodies.

Read the full paper here.

07/20/2020 10:52 GMT — What does life in a ‘post-lockdown’ world look like?

In a Special Feature article, Medical News Today look at the divergent opinions about lockdowns and plans to reopen, as well as how people around the world are coping with their new normal.

As many countries across the globe are easing restrictions, some areas are reintroducing stricter measures to tackle rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. 

Some of our readers share their views on the challenges of feeling safe when they leave their home. Others express frustration regarding any form of lockdown.

Read the full feature here.

07/17/2020 15:33 GMT — MNT video update: The impact of Sweden’s soft approach

07/17/2020 10:39 GMT — US sets another daily record for COVID-19 cases

On Thursday, the United States registered 77,217 new cases of COVID-19, which is a daily record. There were also 969 deaths, which is the highest death toll since June 10. In total, the U.S. has now reported more than 3.5 million cases.

Yesterday, California reported almost 10,000 new cases, Florida reported nearly 14,000 new cases, and Texas reported more than 15,000 new cases.

Read more about the situation in the U.S. here.

07/17/2020 09:56 GMT — Could zinc protect against COVID-19?

A recent review concludes that zinc might have protective effects against COVID-19 by boosting antiviral immunity and curbing inflammation. However, the authors also explain that the data are not yet sufficient to make recommendations regarding zinc intake and COVID-19.

The authors published their review in theInternational Journal of Molecular Medicine. Lead author Prof. Anatoly Skalny explains that, “According to the current estimates, the risk of zinc deficiency is observed in more than 1.5 billion people in the world.”

He continues: “Given the crucial role of zinc in regulation of immunity, one can propose that its insufficiency may be considered as a risk factor for infectious diseases.”

Find more about the review here.

07/16/2020 10:51 GMT — COVID-19: Doctors round up evidence of damage outside the lungs

Nature Medicine recently published a comprehensive review of COVID-19’s widespread effects on organ systems beyond the lungs. The paper also provides guidelines for managing these diverse effects. Doctors working on the frontline of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City wrote the paper.

“Physicians need to think of COVID-19 as a multisystem disease,” explains Dr. Aakriti Gupta, who was one of the first cardiology specialists to be deployed to COVID-19 intensive care units at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

“There’s a lot of news about clotting, but it’s also important to understand that a substantial proportion of these patients [experience] kidney, heart, and brain damage, and physicians need to treat those conditions along with the respiratory disease.”

MNT covers the new paper in detail here.

07/16/2020 10:01 GMT — COVID-19 associated with spike in broken heart syndrome

Stress cardiomyopathy, which is also known as broken heart syndrome, refers to cardiac dysfunction caused by emotional or physical stress. A new study finds an association between living through the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in cases of broken heart syndrome.

The scientists compared patients admitted to a hospital for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) before the pandemic with those admitted during the pandemic. They published their findings inJAMA Network Open.

The authors identified “a significant increase in the incidence of stress cardiomyopathy in patients presenting with ACS during the COVID-19 period.”

Read MNT’s full coverage of the study here.

07/15/2020 09:02 GMT — As case numbers surge, India reimposes lockdown

In the past 24 hours, the number of COVID-19 cases in India has surged by more than 29,000. On Wednesday, Bihar state and Bangalore entered lockdowns. Officials in other states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Assam, have locked down high risk areas.

In Bihar state, 2.5 million migrant workers recently returned to their homes after losing work in other parts of the country, further spreading the virus.

To date, India has registered more than 936,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 24,000 deaths.

Find more about the situation in India here.

07/15/2020 08:58 GMT — What was the impact of Sweden’s soft approach to lockdown?

In Sweden, the government enforced a relatively soft lockdown. A recent study investigates how this affected overall death rates. The authors conclude that the approach resulted in fewer deaths than expected but that there were more deaths than in neighboring countries.

The study, which appears in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, explains that as of May 15, Sweden had a per capita death rate of 35 in every 100,000 people. This figure is significantly higher than the figures in Denmark (9.3), Finland (5.2), and Norway (4.7).

However, Sweden’s death rate was lower than that of other European countries, including the United Kingdom (51), Spain (58), and Italy (52).

Read more about the study here.

07/14/2020 14:51 GMT — MNT video update: Hope behind the news

07/14/2020 10:35 GMT — Which homemade masks are most effective?

Using laser visualization experiments, a recent study investigates which types of homemade masks are most effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The authors conclude that they should fit snugly and contain multiple layers of quilted fabric.

The new research appears in the journal Physics of Fluids. Lead author Siddhartha Verma explains why the team decided to investigate:

“While there are a few prior studies on the effectiveness of medical-grade equipment, we don’t have a lot of information about the cloth-based coverings that are most accessible to us at present.”

He continues, “Our hope is that the visualizations presented in the paper help convey the rationale behind the recommendations for social distancing and using face masks.”

Read MNT’s full coverage of the study here.

07/14/2020 10:30 GMT — ‘Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction’

According to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction; the virus remains public enemy number one. […] If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go — it is going to get worse and worse and worse.”

At the virtual briefing from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, advised that some areas in the United States may need “limited or geographically focused lockdowns that suppress transmission in specific areas where transmission is, frankly, out of control.”

Read more from the briefing here.

07/13/2020 09:13 GMT — Innovative air filter could effectively kill SARS-CoV-2

According to a new paper, scientists have developed an air filter that can capture SARS-CoV-2 and instantly kill it. In the study, which appears in Materials Today Physics, the nickel foam filter killed 99.8% of SARS-CoV-2 particles that passed through it.

Co-corresponding author of the paper, Prof. Zhifeng Ren, explains, “This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, in office buildings, schools, and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19. Its ability to help control the spread of the virus could be very useful for society.”

Read our summary of the study here.

07/13/2020 09:05 GMT — COVID-19 could directly affect the heart

The authors of a recent stem cell study conclude that SARS-CoV-2 can infect heart cells using the same receptor present in the lungs. The study may help explain the cardiac complications associated with COVID-19. The results appear in the journal Cell Reports Medicine.

The scientists also found that the virus can divide rapidly once it enters heart cells. First study author Dr. Arun Sharma explains:

“We not only uncovered that these stem cell-derived heart cells are susceptible to infection by [the] novel coronavirus, but that the virus can also quickly divide within the heart muscle cells.”

Find our full coverage of the research here.

07/10/2020 16:15 GMT — Video update: The effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of Indigenous communities

07/10/2020 09:29 GMT — The US reports 60,500 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday

On Wednesday, the United States recorded 60,000 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday, the country set a 1-day record with a total of 60,500. This is the largest 1-day increase in any country since COVID-19 emerged. Over the past 2 weeks, infections increased in 41 states. 

Read more here.

07/10/2020 09:24 GMT — Over 80% of young people may show no symptoms

A recent preliminary study suggests that 4 out of 5 people aged 20 and under might present no symptoms after contracting the novel coronavirus. This finding could have important implications for virus transmission. The research appears on the preprint platform arXiv.

The authors analyzed data from 5,484 individuals from Italy who had been in contact with people who had a new coronavirus infection. Among this group, 2,824 individuals had laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Of those with the infection, just 31% displayed symptoms. Among people aged 20 years and under, the authors calculated that a probable 81.9% would show no symptoms following the infection.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

07/09/2020 14:57 GMT — Global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 12 million

07/09/2020 10:09 GMT — COVID-19: How do we explain ‘happy’ hypoxia?

A recent study concludes that long-established principles of respiratory science could explain the unusual phenomenon of “happy” hypoxia, or silent hypoxemia, in people with COVID-19. The research appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“Happy” hypoxia describes patients who, despite having low blood oxygen levels, appear to function without serious issues or even shortness of breath.

Lead author Dr. Martin J. Tobin explains, “In some instances, the patient is comfortable and using a phone at a point when the physician is about to insert a breathing [endotracheal] tube and connect the patient to a mechanical ventilator, which, while potentially lifesaving, carries its own set of risks.”

In their paper, the authors explain how conventional respiratory science can explain many cases of silent hypoxemia.

Read our coverage of the paper here

07/09/2020 09:35 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 variant does not cause worse symptoms

A recent study finds that a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, which is now the dominant form of the virus, is more infectious in cell cultures. Importantly, though, this variant does not appear to cause more severe cases of COVID-19.

All viruses mutate, and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception. One particular mutation, known as D614G, has raised concerns. From February to April, this variant became the dominant strain, suggesting that the mutation made the virus more infectious.

Bette Korber, Ph.D., the lead author of the study, which appears in the journal Cell, explains, “All over the world, even when local epidemics had many cases of the original form circulating, soon after the D614G variant was introduced into a region, it became the prevalent form.”

The researchers found that the D614G mutation was up to nine times more infectious than the original virus. However, the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 does not appear to be associated with worse outcomes.

Read our full coverage of the study here.

07/08/2020 09:13 GMT — WHO consider “possibility of airborne transmission”

Previously, the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that SARS-CoV-2 spreads primarily through small droplets that an infected person expels in coughs or sneezes. These droplets sink to the ground relatively quickly. However, the WHO are now considering evidence that floating virus particles might also be involved in transmission.

An invited commentary in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases outlines evidence that suggests this type of airborne spread. A total of 239 scientists reviewed the paper before publication.

Because airborne particles can linger in the air for longer, the scientists urge the WHO to update their guidance, such as the 1 meter physical distance rule. Jose Jimenez, one of the scientists who reviewed the paper, explains:

“We wanted them to acknowledge the evidence. This is definitely not an attack on the WHO. It’s a scientific debate, but we felt we needed to go public because they were refusing to hear the evidence after many conversations with them.”

At a WHO briefing on Tuesday, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said, “The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings — especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out.”

She continued, “However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.”

Read the full commentary here.

07/08/2020 09:05 GMT — Brazilian President tests positive for coronavirus

At a media briefing yesterday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro advised that he had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 has killed more than 66,700 people in Brazil while Bolsonaro’s cavalier attitude to the virus has attracted criticism.

During his announcement, Bolsonaro continued to dismiss the dangers associated with the virus. He also told the media that he was taking hydroxychloroquine to treat the infection.

As the interview ended, he stepped away from the camera, lowered his mask, and said, “You can see from my face that I’m well, and I’m calm.”

More on this story here.

07/07/2020 16:52 GMT — Video update: COVID-19 and masks

07/07/2020 09:53 GMT — Research in the time of the coronavirus

A new feature from Medical News Today investigates the impact of COVID-19 on the process of medical research. The article covers, among other topics, logistical issues and the loss of jobs and funding in some specialties.

The feature also talks about how journals have shifted focus from other important areas of research to cover coronavirus-related topics.

The Lancet’s editor-in-chief, Richard Horton, recently wrote a comment piece in which he outlined topics that the journal had planned to focus on in 2020 but that had to be shelved to make way for the pandemic. They included child and adolescent health and migration and health. He writes:

“We are not alone in this difficulty. The monumental challenges presented by the Sustainable Development Goals [outlined by the United Nations] have also been pushed to one side by COVID-19. Extreme poverty, gender inequity, safe water and sanitation, and the promotion of peace through health have all become casualties of the pandemic.”

Find our full article here.

07/07/2020 08:54 GMT — The effects of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities

In the United States, COVID-19 is impacting Indigenous communities to a disproportionate degree. In a Special Feature, Medical News Today discuss the mental health effects and challenges that Indigenous people face as a result of the pandemic.

Some regions bring the disparity into stark relief. For instance, in New Mexico, Indigenous Americans make up only 8.8% of the population but account for more than 60% of deaths.

At a teleconference that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation organized, Dr. Donald Warne, associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences, says, “American Indians are dying of neglect, and we need non-Indian advocates to recognize that there is an Indigenous health crisis in the U.S.”

Find the full article here.

07/06/2020 14:31 GMT — Global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at 11.5 million

07/06/2020 10:00 GMT — MMR vaccine could prevent worst symptoms of COVID-19

A recent article, which appears in the journal mBiosuggests that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine might help fight COVID-19. The authors believe that the vaccine might help reduce the lung inflammation and sepsis associated with the most severe forms of COVID-19.

Earlier research has found that live attenuated vaccines protect against other infections by “training” the immune system in a nonspecific way. Co-author Dr. Paul Fidel Jr. explains, “Live attenuated vaccines seemingly have some nonspecific benefits as well as immunity to the target pathogen.”

The authors propose a clinical trial of the MMR vaccine in high risk healthcare workers. Dr. Fidel says, “While we are conducting the clinical trials, I don’t think it’s going to hurt anybody to have an MMR vaccine that would protect against […] measles, mumps, and rubella with this potential added benefit of helping [fight] COVID-19.”

Read our full coverage of the new report here.

07/06/2020 09:55 GMT — Should people wear masks?

The subject of face masks has sparked controversy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In a new Special Feature, we ask what the scientific evidence says about wearing a mask. We also examine why some people decide against wearing a mask in public.

In the article, the author addresses some common mask-related questions, including whether they increase the risk of lung infections, limit oxygen intake, or, importantly, reduce viral transmission. 

Read the full article here.

07/03/2020 15:00 GMT — ‘No evidence’ that vitamin D can prevent or treat COVID-19

According to a recent review, there is currently “no evidence” that vitamin D deficiency is an independent risk factor for COVID-19. The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) conducted the review

The authors write: “There is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat COVID-19. However, all people should continue to follow U.K. government advice on daily vitamin D supplementation to maintain bone and muscle health during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Read our coverage of the study here.

07/03/2020 09:13 GMT — Late-stage vaccine trials to begin this month

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, COVID-19 vaccines will reach late-stage clinical trials by late July, and other candidates will follow suit in August, September, and October.

He explained that “We may be able to at least know whether we are dealing with a safe and effective vaccine by the early winter, late winter, [or] beginning of 2021.”

Yesterday, Moderna Inc confirmed that they would begin a late-stage trial involving 30,000 participants later this month.

Learn about the dangers of fast-tracking vaccine research here.

07/02/2020 09:12 GMT — 61% of Republicans believe ‘the worst is behind us’

survey of 4,708 adults in the United States, which Pew Research Center conducted, examined how the public are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The study shows that despite the increasing number of new cases, 61% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe that “the worst is behind us.”

In contrast, only 23% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say that the worst is behind us in regard to COVID-19. The authors note that the report also identifies certain racial differences in the public’s response:

“[C]oncerns over unknowingly spreading the coronavirus have increased8 percentage points among Black Americans (from 64% to 72%) since early April, while decreasingby about the same amount (from 65% to 56%) among white Americans.”

Read the full report here.

07/02/2020 09:09 GMT — Synthetic antibody could prevent and treat COVID-19

A recent study using a mouse model demonstrates that a synthetic antibody could neutralize SARS-CoV-2. This would help prevent infection as well as treat COVID-19 in those who have it.

A group of scientists from Tulane University, in New Orleans, LA, have developed an antibody that stops SARS-CoV-2 from attaching to the ACE2 receptor and entering cells. They have published their findings on the preprint server bioRxiv.

Lead study author Dr. Jay Kolls explains that “Unlike other agents in development against the virus, this protein is engineered to go to the lungs to neutralize the virus before it can infect lung cells.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

07/01/2020 18:26 GMT — MNT video update: Why is COVID-19 more severe for some people?

07/01/2020 10:06 GMT — US experiences largest 1-day spike to date

On Tuesday, The United States registered 47,000 new COVID-19 cases, which is the largest 1-day increase since the pandemic began. In June, cases doubled in at least 10 states, including Florida and Texas.

Speaking to a U.S. senate committee, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “Clearly we are not in total control right now […] I am very concerned because it could get very bad.” Although there are a number of candidates, so far, there is no vaccine. However, Dr. Fauci hopes that “there will be doses available by the beginning of next year.”

Read more about the situation in the U.S. here.

07/01/2020 09:00 GMT — Latinx people may be more vulnerable to COVID-19

An analysis of 37,727 COVID-19 tests found that Latinx people were around three times as likely to test positive, compared with any other ethnic or racial group. The results of the analysis appear in JAMA.

Data for the study came from five hospitals and 30 outpatient clinics in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area of the United States.

Overall, the occurrence of positive tests by ethnic and racial grouping was 42.6% for Latinx people, 17.6% for Black people, 17.2% for people who identified as “other,” and 8.8% for white people.

Read MNT’s coverage of the research here.

06/30/2020 09:30 GMT — UK city enters lockdown after coronavirus flare-up

As the United Kingdom continues to ease physical distancing, the city of Leicester is set to enter a full lockdown. In the past week, the city has registered 10% of the U.K.’s total COVID-19 cases.

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons, “We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from, and within Leicester.”

According to Hancock, during testing, they identified “a number of positive cases in the under 18s, and that’s why we took the decision with a heavy heart to close schools in Leicester.”

He explained that the number of COVID-19 cases in Leicester was “three times higher than the next highest city.”

Read more about the situation in Leicester here.

06/30/2020 09:26 GMT — Why are some people at greater risk of severe COVID-19?

The authors of a recent study asked why some people are at risk of severe COVID-19 while others are not. By studying interactions between airway cells and immune cells, the scientists identified mechanisms by which the immune system helps SARS-CoV-2 infect more cells.

Corresponding author Prof. Roland Eils explains: “Especially in severely ill patients, we observed that an overreactive immune system drives the destruction of the lung tissue. This might explain why these patients are more severely affected by the infection than patients in whom the immune system reacts appropriately.”

One of the lead authors, Prof. Leif-Erik Sander concludes: “These results suggest that our treatments in COVID-19 patients should not only be directed against the virus itself but should also consider therapies that constrain the immune system, such as those now being used with dexamethasone, possibly even at the onset of the disease to prevent the immune system from overreacting.”

Read MNT’s full coverage of the study here.

06/29/2020 15:35 GMT — Total number of COVID-19 deaths has now reached half a million

06/29/2020 08:41 GMT — Achieving herd immunity may occur sooner than scientists previously thought

Once a sufficiently large proportion of a population becomes immune to COVID-19, it will no longer be able to spread.This is known as herd immunity. A new study, which uses data modeling, concludes that the threshold for achieving this is significantly lower than scientists had assumed.

The standard model that epidemiologists use to predict herd immunity estimates that the threshold for COVID-19 herd immunity is around 60% of the population.

However, this approach assumes that a population gains immunity following a vaccination program. When the authors of the new study adjusted the model to take into account rates of transmission in different age groups and among people with varying levels of social activity, the threshold for herd immunity dropped to 43%.

Find our full coverage of the research here.

06/29/2020 08:37 GMT — Are there links between gut bacteria and COVID-19?

The authors of a recent paper ask whether gut bacteria might influence the risk of contracting the new coronavirus and how they might influence the severity of symptoms. Although there are strands of evidence, they conclude that scientists need to carry out more research.

To date, few researchers have tested the direct impact of gut bacteria on COVID-19. In this recent paper, the authors discuss related studies, which suggest that gut bacteria could play a part. The resulting report appears in the journal Virus Research.

Among other lines of investigation, the authors explain that “several studies have demonstrated that respiratory infections are associated with a change in the composition of the gut microbiota.”

They also write: “The composition of balanced gut microbiota is known to have a major influence on the effectiveness of lung immunity. Germ-free mice, devoid of their intestinal microbiota, have been shown to have impaired pathogen clearance capability in the lung.”

Read MNT’s coverage of the paper here.

06/26/2020 16:10 GMT — Video update: Hope behind the headlines

06/26/2020 14:24 GMT — Total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 9.6 million globally

06/26/2020 14:14 GMT — Hope behind the headlines

In our Hope Behind the Headlines series, we feature promising findings and encouraging scientific advances in the fight against SARS-CoV-2.

In our latest installment, we report on a drug that some have hailed as a breakthrough treatment for COVID-19, as well as antivirals that can stop infection in cell cultures, and a new material that might one day help build lamps that can inactivate SARS-CoV-2 on contaminated surfaces. 

Read the full article here.

06/26/2020 08:50 GMT — Using nanosponges to neutralize SARS-CoV-2

Microscopic, bio-friendly plastics coated in lung and immune cell membranes could act as a decoy for SARS-CoV-2, neutralizing the virus. These so-called nanosponges might be useful in the fight against a range of viruses. The results appear in the journal Nano Letters.

“It looks like a nanoparticle coated in pieces of cell membrane,” says co-first author Prof. Anna Honko. “The small polymer [droplet] mimics a cell having a membrane around it.” 

In the study, the scientists found that these mimics attracted the virus more effectively than lung cells. Once the virus binds to the nanosponge, it quickly dies.

Next, the researchers need to demonstrate that this technique works in an animal model. In the future, the authors hope that their technology will be available in a nasal spray.

“That would be an easy and safe administration method that should target the appropriate [respiratory] tissues,” says Prof. Honko. “And if you wanted to treat patients that are already intubated, you could deliver it straight into the lung.”

Read our full coverage of the study here.

06/26/2020 08:46 GMT — Why COVID-19 ICU patients may experience heart issues

The authors of a recent study conclude that COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICU) may be more likely to experience cardiac arrests or arrhythmias due to systemic issues, rather than the virus itself. Their results appear in the journal Heart Rhythm.

Senior author Dr. Rajat Deo explains: “Our findings suggest that noncardiac causes, such as systemic infection, inflammation, and illness, are likely to contribute more to the occurrence of cardiac arrest and arrhythmias than damaged or infected heart cells due to the viral infection.”

Read our coverage of the research here.

06/25/2020 15:05 GMT — Should a lottery system decide who gets COVID-19 treatments first?

In a JAMA viewport article, researchers recommend using a lottery system to allocate scare resources, such as the drug remdesivir, to patients in the hospital with COVID-19. They propose that individual state health departments oversee the lottery systems. 

“Although the purpose of the lottery is to fairly distribute a scarce public resource, a secondary benefit is that the lottery creates randomization, which balances known and unknown confounders across patients who receive or do not receive remdesivir,” the authors argue. 

Read more about the ethics of allocating resources here

06/25/2020 12:08 GMT — Pregnant women in crowded households more likely to acquire the new coronavirus

New research shows that pregnant women living in New York City were three times as likely to have the new coronavirus if they lived in large households and two times as likely if they lived in areas with high unemployment and household crowding.

The researchers define household crowding as more than one person living in each room on average. 

They suggest that these data “may aid policy makers in the design of interventions to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

Read our full coverage here

06/24/2020 08:53 GMT — 108 million people in the US cannot work from home

A recent study, which appears in the American Journal of Public Health, finds that 75% of United States workers, which equates to about 108 million people, cannot work from home. These individuals are also more likely to experience layoffs, furloughs, and reductions in hours.

Additionally, these workers are more likely to receive lower pay than those who can work remotely. Study author Marissa Baker explains:

“This pandemic has really exacerbated existing vulnerabilities in American society, with workers most affected by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders being significantly lower paid and now also at increased risk for mental health outcomes associated with job insecurity and displacement, in addition to increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 if they keep going to work.”

Read the full study here.

06/24/2020 08:46 GMT — Face masks now mandatory in Washington state

Last week, Washington state reported a 35% increase in cases of COVID-19. In response, Washington Governor Jay Inslee ordered residents to wear face masks in public places. He explains, “This is about saving lives. It’s about reopening our businesses. And it’s about showing respect and care for one another.”

Last week, the number of cases in the United States rose by 25%, and 10 states reported an increase of 50% or more.

Read more here.

06/23/2020 14:16 GMT — MNT video update: COVID-19 race-related disparities

06/23/2020 13:21 GMT — Number of COVID-19 cases has now passed 9 million

06/23/2020 12:56 GMT — ‘Increasing concern’ over COVID-19 race-related disparities

Researchers in the United Kingdom recently analyzed data from 4,510 people, 1,326 of whom had COVID-19, to test whether a range of factors could explain why the new coronavirus disproportionately affects males and people of racial or ethnic minority groups. Their results appear in the Journal of Public Health.

The results identified being male, belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group, having overweight, having greater material deprivation, and experiencing household overcrowding as risk factors.

However, cardiometabolic health, vitamin D status, and socioeconomic and behavioral factors did not explain why males and people of ethnic or racial minority groups are more likely to have worse outcomes when they develop COVID-19. 

Read our full coverage of the study here.

06/23/2020 08:57 GMT — Researchers test arthritis drug against COVID-19

Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are testing a drug for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis called canakinumab. They hope that it might help prevent “cytokine storm,” a life threatening immune reaction that occurs in COVID-19 patients with pneumonia. 

Canakinumab blocks the cytokine interleukin-1, which is involved in regulating the immune response; it encourages other proteins to respond to threats. The researchers hope that by blocking interleukin-1, the immune response will be muted, preventing the damage caused by an overzealous response.

The researchers are investigating whether canakinumab combined with standard treatment increases survival without requiring invasive mechanical ventilation in patients with COVID-19-induced pneumonia.

Find more about the study here.

06/23/2020 08:38 GMT — Vaccine trials in Thailand

Scientists in Thailand are testing a potential COVID-19 vaccine on monkeys. This week, they gave the animals the second of three injections, which they are giving at 1-month intervals. The first injection yielded positive results and, if they can repeat this, the researchers believe that human trials are imminent.

According to lead researcher Kiat Ruxrungtham, the monkeys’ immune response to the first vaccine was “very impressive.” If the response to the second treatment is similar, the team plans to order 10,000 doses to begin a human clinical trial by November. 

Find more information on COVID-19 research here.

06/22/2020 15:26 GMT — Global number of COVID-19 cases reaches 8.98 million

06/22/2020 14:11 GMT — WHO report largest daily rise in new COVID-19 cases

In their daily situation report, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted yesterday that there were 183,020 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. 

The majority of these were in the Americas. South-East Asia saw 20,248 new cases, while the Eastern Mediterranean region saw 18,975 new cases. In Europe, the number was 17,922; in Africa, it was 8,464, while it was 1,370 in the Western Pacific region. 

The number of deaths in the previous 24 hours was 4,743. 

Read more about the challenges of calculating COVID-19 mortality rates here.

06/22/2020 12:18 GMT — Spotting fake coronavirus news

A feature in Nature examines what readers can do to spot coronavirus misinformation and what scientists around the world are doing to dispel COVID-19 myths. 

There have been plenty of fake coronavirus news stories in recent months. Fact-checking organizations have been busy countering the flow of misinformation. 

As individuals, there are things that we can do to check whether the news that we are reading is likely from a valid source. These include checking whether the story comes from a fake account or an unreliable source and being suspicious when the source asks readers to share news on social media. 

Read more about coronavirus myths here.

06/22/2020 09:49 GMT — Is blood group linked to risk of severe COVID-19?

A new study suggests that people who have blood group A are 45% more likely to need oxygen treatment or ventilation at a hospital with COVID-19 than those with other blood groups, while people who have blood group O are 35% less likely. 

Several researchers have previously proposed that people who have blood group A are more susceptible to infection with the new coronavirus. 

However, not all experts agree. Dr. Sakthivel Vaiyapuri, an associate professor in cardiovascular and venom Pharmacology at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, commented that while the study was of a high quality, it “doesn’t draw any strong conclusions about how different blood types may make someone susceptible or protective for COVID-19.” 

“People with A blood group should not panic about these results, and at the same time O blood group people should not be relaxed because they may not get this disease. Everyone should follow the guidelines provided by the health authorities and be extremely cautious to protect themselves and others around them,” Dr. Vaiyapuri continued. 

Read the full study here

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

06/18/2020 12:32 GMT — ‘We don’t have a health system’ says expert on prisons, race, and COVID-19

In an interview with Prof. John Eason, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we examine incarceration as a public health concern in the United States and the toll that it takes on Black communities, especially in the context of the pandemic.

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. 

Read the full interview here.

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.”

Several experts have reacted positively to the news.

Read more here.

Previous COVID-19 updates available here:

April 16–June 16

March 24-April 15

March 7–March 23

Feb 22–March 6