Obese children hospitalized with coronavirus THREE TIMES more likely to need ventilators, study says


Obese children hospitalized with coronavirus are THREE TIMES more likely to need ventilators, study finds

  • Researchers looked at 50 coronavirus pediatric patients hospitalized at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital
  • Obesity was the most chronic health condition with 19 patients either being obese or overweight
  • 60% of obese pediatric patients with coronavirus were characterized as having ‘severe disease’
  • About 67% of obese kids were placed on the breathing machines compared to 20% of non-obese kids
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Children infected with the novel coronavirus who are overweight or obese are more likely to be critically ill, a new study looking at 50 patients suggests.

Researchers from Columba University Irving Medical Center found obesity occurred in 60 percent of pediatric patients characterized as having ‘severe disease.’

What’s more, obese children were three times more likely to need to be placed on a ventilator than children with average weights.  

A new study found that 67% of obese coronavirus pediatric patients were placed on the breathing machines compared to 20% of non-obese kids. Pictured: Jayden Hardowar, eight, from New York, who is not obese, was placed on a ventilator last month

About 60% of obese pediatric patients with coronavirus were characterized as having 'severe disease'. Pictured: Bobby Dean, nine, from Rochester, New York, was hospitalized with coronavirus this year

About 60% of obese pediatric patients with coronavirus were characterized as having ‘severe disease’. Pictured: Bobby Dean, nine, from Rochester, New York, was hospitalized with coronavirus this year

For the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, the team examined 50 patients under 21 years old hospitalized at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

The median time from the development of symptoms to hospital admission was about two days.

However, it was longer for adolescents (four days) compared to younger children and infants (one day).

The majority of patients – 80 percent – had fever or respiratory symptoms, but three patients only had gastrointestinal symptoms when they were diagnosed.  

Obesity and being overweight, 19 out of the 50 patients, was the most chronic health condition among the children.

Researchers found that children with obesity who were older than than age two were three times more likely to be put on a ventilator.

About 67 percent of obese kids were placed on the breathing machines compared to 20 percent of non-obese kids.  

Several earlier reports have found that being overweight is a major risk factor for people sick with coronavirus.

A study of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, found that obese people were twice as likely to be hospitalized compared with the state population.

This means that obese people diagnosed with COVID-19 could put an even further strain on already overwhelmed hospitals. 

Additionally, a recent study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that obese adults who become infected with the flu are not only at a greater risk of severe complications, but remain contagious longer.

This means that obesity is tied to an increased risk of flu transmission, and likely holds true for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus.  

‘The significance of obesity as an independent risk factor for severity is now being increasingly described in adult studies of COVID-19, so it was interesting that many of the hospitalized patients in this study had obesity and/or overweight,’ the authors wrote.  

‘Obesity was the most significant factor associated with mechanical ventilation in children [two] years and older. 

In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 106,000 deaths. 

Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus patients in ICUs become delirious


Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus patients in ICUs become delirious – and those with confusion triggered by the virus face 10% higher risks of death

  • More than 73% of patients admitted to ICUs with coronavirus experience delirium, which lasts for about seven days
  • About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation 
  • Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn’t
  • In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The majority of Americans critically ill with the novel coronavirus become delirious, a new small study suggests.

Researchers found that almost three-quarters of US adults admitted to the ICU with the virus experience delirium, which continues for about one week. 

What’s more, coronavirus patients who experience delirium were 10 percent more likely to die than those who didn’t.

The team, from the Indiana University School of Medicine, said that the findings show evidence that doctors need to pay close attention to COVID-19 patients so they can quickly treat signs of delirium. 

More than 73% of patients admitted to ICUs with coronavirus experience delirium, which lasts for about seven days (above)

About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation (above)

About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation (above)

Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn't. Pictured: A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from COVID-19 in the ICU at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, May 12

Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn’t. Pictured: A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from COVID-19 in the ICU at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, May 12

For the study, published on pre-print site medRxiv.org, the team looked a patients admitted to two Level 1 trauma centers.

This included patients who were admitted to ICUs with a positive coronavirus test between March 1 and April 27. 

Results showed that delirium occurred within the first 14 days of ICU stay in 73.6 percent of patients.

Additionally, delirium or coma occurred in 76.4 percent of the 144 patients studied.

Researchers also found that invasive mechanical ventilation was linked to greater  odds of patients experiencing delirium. 

The median score on a scale (from four to seven) that measured delirium was six, which represents severe delirium.  

About 86.8 percent of patients with delirium had hypoactive delirium, which is characterized by a reduction in physical movements and a slowing of speech, which lasted about four days.

The other roughly 13 percent had hyperactive delirium, which is characterized by motor agitation and restlessness, which lasted less than one day.  

Additionally, more than one-quarter of patients with delirium died compared to about 16 percent of patients without delirium who died. 

‘Clinical attention to prevent and manage delirium and reduce delirium duration and severity is urgently needed for patients with COVID-19,’ the authors wrote. 

This is not the first report to find cases of delirium in coronavirus patients.

A study from Wuhan, China – where the virus is believed to have originated – found that 36 percent of coronavirus patients had neurological symptoms such as strokes and headaches.

Another study from France found that 84 percent of patients experienced these symptoms, even after they left the hospital. 

In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths.

Flu researchers say we should make a NEW antiviral to stop coronavirus


Flu researchers say we should make a NEW antiviral to prevent coronavirus from replicating throughout the body and stop focusing on repurposing old drugs

  • Researchers looked an older treatment for the flu, Tamiflu, and a newer treatment, Xofluza, the first new type of flu drug in 20 years
  • Xofluza limited the amount of time a person was sick by quickly stopping the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body
  • The team says the same approach needs to work for coronavirus, creating a new drug that stops the virus from multiplying rather then repurposing old drugs
  • In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A new antiviral drug should be created to stop the novel coronavirus rather than repurposing old medication, a new study suggests.

Researchers compared an older antiviral treatment that most flu patients know compared to a newer one.

The newer treatment cut the amount of time people were sick with the flu, which limited the spread of the virus, because it stopped the disease from multiplying within an infected person. 

The team, from the University of Texas at Austin, says creating a drug that does the same for the coronavirus in early-stage patients would be more beneficial that trying to get existing drugs to treat late-stage patients.

A newer treatment fro flu Xofluza (blue) limited the amount of time a person was sick by quickly stopping the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body rather than the older treatment of Tamiflu (green)

The team says the same approach needs to work for coronavirus, creating a new drug that stops the virus from multiplying rather then repurposing old drugs. Pictured: COVID-19 patients are taken into to the Wakefield Campus of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, April 6

The team says the same approach needs to work for coronavirus, creating a new drug that stops the virus from multiplying rather then repurposing old drugs. Pictured: COVID-19 patients are taken into to the Wakefield Campus of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, April 6

For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team looked at influenza and its implications for COVID, the disease caused by the virus.

Researchers first looked at the effects of Tamiflu, or its generic oseltamivir, one of three drugs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed to treat the flu.  

Then they looked at baloxavir, which is sold under the brand name Xofluza, the first new type of flu drug in 20 years.

The new treatment from the same company that developed Tamiflu, was shown in past studies to cut the amount of time people were sick and reduce the length of a fever. 

While Xofluza didn’t work faster than Tamiflu, it did reduce the level of the virus in patients’ nose and throat quicker. 

The new study showed that the newer treatment limited the amount of time a person was sick by quickly stopping the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body. 

‘We found that treating even 10 percent of infected patients with baloxavir shortly after the onset of their symptoms can indirectly prevent millions of infections and save thousands of lives during a typical influenza season,’ said Dr Robert Krug, a professor emeritus of molecular biosciences, in a blog that accompanied the paper.  

Krug and his team say that a similar antiviral treatment would help to prevent thousands of infections and deaths from the coronavirus    

‘Imagine a drug that quashes viral load within a day and thus radically shortens the contagious period,’ said Dr Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology.

‘Basically, we could isolate COVID-19 cases pharmaceutically rather than physically and disrupt chains of transmission.’

Most drugs being researched to treat COVID-19 have focused on existing antivirals that can be given to critically ill patient.

But the team says research should shift towards developing a new antiviral for the coronavirus that is used early on in infection and stops the virus from replicating,  , just as baloxavir does for the flu.

‘It may seem counterintuitive to focus on treatments, not for the critically ill patient in need of a life-saving intervention, but rather for the seemingly healthy patient shortly after a COVID-19 positive test,’ Krug said. 

‘Nonetheless, our analysis shows that the right early-stage antiviral treatment can block transmission to others and, in the long run, may well save more lives.’

In the US, there were more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths.

Fauci is ‘optimistic’ Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine will work


America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, said he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that one of several coronavirus vaccines being developed in the US will work to prevent infection, and be ready in ‘a reasonable period of time.’ 

Speaking at a The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Health Conference on Tuesday, Dr Fauci said that he is ‘really optimistic’ about the shot that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – which he directs – is working on with Moderna. 

Moderna’s shot showed early promise in its phase 2 human tests last month. The company reported that it triggered antibody production on par with that seen in recovered coronavirus patients. 

The announcement sent shares for Moderna sky-rocketing by 20 percent, but was quickly followed by skepticism and the revelation that the suspiciously well-timed results coincided with automated trading by the company’s largest investor and the sale of $30 million worth of shares by two of its executives. 

Medical experts, too, questioned whether the data from the study – which reported antibody levels in just eight patients – was really significant, or entirely positive.

But Dr Fauci was unwavering, saying he and his collaborators ‘are really optimistic we’re going to be successful.’ 

Dr Anthony Fauci expressed optimism about the US effort to make coronavirus vaccines in general, and the NIAID’s work with Moderna to make one in particular on Tuesday (file)  

He added that Moderna’s is just one of many vaccines being developed, and that he expects multiple will prove effective. 

‘There will be a vaccine that is protective,’ he said. 

‘I think there will be several candidates that will arrive at that goal at approximately the same time.’ 

Dr Fauci is encouraged by the fact that an antibody response has been seen in coronavirus patients who have recovered from the infection. 

That is not the case for every infectious disease. Most notably, the human body does not mount an immune response to HIV, the infectious disease upon which Dr Fauci built his career studying. 

‘Given that the body can make a good response against coronavirus, we feel cautiously optimistic that if we mimic safely natural infection with our vaccine, we will be able to induce a response in a person that would be equivalent to the response that natural infection induces,’ Dr Fauci said via video call during the remote conference. 

Moderna’s ‘positive data’ on its vaccine was released on May 18. 

Moderna announced Friday that it has begun its second phase of human trials for its coronavirus vaccines - but the results of its first human tests are now shrouded in controversy

Moderna announced Friday that it has begun its second phase of human trials for its coronavirus vaccines – but the results of its first human tests are now shrouded in controversy

Moderna has led the pack in the US race to make a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection

Moderna has led the pack in the US race to make a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection 

The eight people in the trial had blood levels of neutralizing antibodies – immune cells that may be able to block the coronavirus – that were on par with those seen in people who had recovered from coronavirus. 

Only about a third drugs that enter clinical trials make it to final stage testing. So it’s not terribly common for big announcements to be made about early stage tests, which may have little bearing on the final outcome of clinical trials. 

What’s more, University of Texas vaccine expert Dr Peter Hotez noted on Twitter that some studies have suggested that the level of these antibodies in recovered patients’ plasma might not be sufficient to neutralize the virus. 

So the trial’s highly-anticipated results were ‘not necessarily good news,’ he said.

But it’s the best news the US has seen about a vaccine so far, although similar results were seen in early trials of a vaccine being developed in China. 

And the stock market certainly responded as though it was very good news. 

Tal Zaks is chief medical officer of Moderna. He liquidated his shares in the company and made millions this year

Lawrenc Kim is Moderna's chief technical officer, and sold off all his shares as Moderna's coronavirus vaccine sent share prices sky-rocketing

Moderna’s chief medical offier, Tal Zaks (left), and chief technical officer, Lawrence Kim (right), collectively made nearly $30 million selling off shares after the earlier trial results were announced 

On the basis of early indicators of an antibody response seen in just eight trial participants, its share prices jumped up 20 percent. 

In the hours and days following the announcement, the company amassed $1.3 billion in a mass sale of shares to the public, two executives – chief medical officer Tal Zaks and chief technical officer Lawrence Kim – sold off nearly $30 million of their combined shares, and the Moderna’s primary venture capital investor sold a million of its shares, according to CNN. 

Moderna’s vaccine has been mired in controversy ever since. 

That doesn’t concern Dr Fauci so much as lingering questions over just what kind of protection these antibodies provide put him ill at ease. 

‘What is a big unknown is what the durability of that protection is,’ he said during the Tuesday conference. 

‘Is it going to be a year, two years or even maybe, unfortunately, six months or less?

‘Then we have a secondary problem. We may have overcome the first problem of getting a vaccine, but then you’re in a logistical situation.’ 

Already, the ‘reasonable’ time frame for a coronavirus vaccine is most the start of next year for front line workers to receive it and longer for the average citizen. 

If everyone needs two doses within six months, that’s twice as much vaccine to produce.     

The phase 2 trial for Moderna’s shot, launched this week, will follow its participants for a year, but a phase 3 trial is planned for next month and the hope is that the vaccine’s first batch could be ready by January. 

Flu researchers say we should make a NEW antiviral to stop coronavirus


Flu researchers say we should make a NEW antiviral to prevent coronavirus from replicating throughout the body and stop focusing on repurposing old drugs

  • Researchers looked an older treatment for the flu, Tamiflu, and a newer treatment, Xofluza, the first new type of flu drug in 20 years
  • Xofluza limited the amount of time a person was sick by quickly stopping the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body
  • The team says the same approach needs to work for coronavirus, creating a new drug that stops the virus from multiplying rather then repurposing old drugs
  • In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A new antiviral drug should be created to stop the novel coronavirus rather than repurposing old medication, a new study suggests.

Researchers compared an older antiviral treatment that most flu patients know compared to a newer one.

The newer treatment cut the amount of time people were sick with the flu, which limited the spread of the virus, because it stopped the disease from multiplying within an infected person. 

The team, from the University of Texas at Austin, says creating a drug that does the same for the coronavirus in early-stage patients would be more beneficial that trying to get existing drugs to treat late-stage patients.

A newer treatment fro flu Xofluza (blue) limited the amount of time a person was sick by quickly stopping the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body rather than the older treatment of Tamiflu (green)

The team says the same approach needs to work for coronavirus, creating a new drug that stops the virus from multiplying rather then repurposing old drugs. Pictured: COVID-19 patients are taken into to the Wakefield Campus of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, April 6

The team says the same approach needs to work for coronavirus, creating a new drug that stops the virus from multiplying rather then repurposing old drugs. Pictured: COVID-19 patients are taken into to the Wakefield Campus of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, April 6

For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team looked at influenza and its implications for COVID, the disease caused by the virus.

Researchers first looked at the effects of Tamiflu, or its generic oseltamivir, one of three drugs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed to treat the flu.  

Then they looked at baloxavir, which is sold under the brand name Xofluza, the first new type of flu drug in 20 years.

The new treatment from the same company that developed Tamiflu, was shown in past studies to cut the amount of time people were sick and reduce the length of a fever. 

While Xofluza didn’t work faster than Tamiflu, it did reduce the level of the virus in patients’ nose and throat quicker. 

The new study showed that the newer treatment limited the amount of time a person was sick by quickly stopping the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body. 

‘We found that treating even 10 percent of infected patients with baloxavir shortly after the onset of their symptoms can indirectly prevent millions of infections and save thousands of lives during a typical influenza season,’ said Dr Robert Krug, a professor emeritus of molecular biosciences, in a blog that accompanied the paper.  

Krug and his team say that a similar antiviral treatment would help to prevent thousands of infections and deaths from the coronavirus    

‘Imagine a drug that quashes viral load within a day and thus radically shortens the contagious period,’ said Dr Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology.

‘Basically, we could isolate COVID-19 cases pharmaceutically rather than physically and disrupt chains of transmission.’

Most drugs being researched to treat COVID-19 have focused on existing antivirals that can be given to critically ill patient.

But the team says research should shift towards developing a new antiviral for the coronavirus that is used early on in infection and stops the virus from replicating,  , just as baloxavir does for the flu.

‘It may seem counterintuitive to focus on treatments, not for the critically ill patient in need of a life-saving intervention, but rather for the seemingly healthy patient shortly after a COVID-19 positive test,’ Krug said. 

‘Nonetheless, our analysis shows that the right early-stage antiviral treatment can block transmission to others and, in the long run, may well save more lives.’

In the US, there were more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths.

Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus patients in ICUs become delirious


Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus patients in ICUs become delirious – and those with confusion triggered by the virus face 10% higher risks of death

  • More than 73% of patients admitted to ICUs with coronavirus experience delirium, which lasts for about seven days
  • About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation 
  • Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn’t
  • In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The majority of Americans critically ill with the novel coronavirus become delirious, a new small study suggests.

Researchers found that almost three-quarters of US adults admitted to the ICU with the virus experience delirium, which continues for about one week. 

What’s more, coronavirus patients who experience delirium were 10 percent more likely to die than those who didn’t.

The team, from the Indiana University School of Medicine, said that the findings show evidence that doctors need to pay close attention to COVID-19 patients so they can quickly treat signs of delirium. 

More than 73% of patients admitted to ICUs with coronavirus experience delirium, which lasts for about seven days (above)

About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation (above)

About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation (above)

Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn't. Pictured: Registered nurse Sara King attends to a patient suffering from COVID-19 in the ICU at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, May 12

Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn’t. Pictured: Registered nurse Sara King attends to a patient suffering from COVID-19 in the ICU at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, May 12

For the study, published on pre-print site medRxiv.org, the team looked a patients admitted to two Level 1 trauma centers.

This included patients who were admitted to ICUs with a positive coronavirus test between March 1 and April 27. 

Results showed that delirium occurred within the first 14 days of ICU stay in 73.6 percent of patients.

Additionally, delirium or coma occurred in 76.4 percent of the 144 patients studied.

Researchers also found that invasive mechanical ventilation was linked to greater  odds of patients experiencing delirium. 

The median score on a scale (from four to seven) that measured delirium was six, which represents severe delirium.  

About 86.8 percent of patients with delirium had hypoactive delirium, which is characterized by a reduction in physical movements and a slowing of speech, which lasted about four days.

The other roughly 13 percent had hyperactive delirium, which is characterized by motor agitation and restlessness, which lasted less than one day.  

Additionally, more than one-quarter of patients with delirium died compared to about 16 percent of patients without delirium who died. 

‘Clinical attention to prevent and manage delirium and reduce delirium duration and severity is urgently needed for patients with COVID-19,’ the authors wrote. 

This is not the first report to find cases of delirium in coronavirus patients.

A study from Wuhan, China – where the virus is believed to have originated – found that 36 percent of coronavirus patients had neurological symptoms such as strokes and headaches.

Another study from France found that 84 percent of patients experienced these symptoms, even after they left the hospital. 

In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths.

Coronavirus is a blood vessel disease, study suggests


The virus that causes COVID-19 is named for its attack on the respiratory system. 

But as doctors continue to report high rates of blood clots, strokes, brain swelling and heart problems in their coronavirus patients, researchers have been increasingly suspicious the infection is more than a respiratory disease, but stumped for an explanation. 

One study, published in April, may have found the skeleton key to the bizarre and disparate symptoms striking coronavirus sufferers: a lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium. 

Researchers in Switzerland found the virus attacks cells that line blood vessels – which may explain persistent clotting and the failure of organs that aren’t normally involved in respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. 

Swiss researchers found visible evidence that coronavirus was infecting and multiplying in the lining of blood vessels of patients’ kidneys (A, B) as well as signs of inflammation and cell death triggered by the virus in heart and small bowel (C and D) and lungs (D). It suggests that coronavirus is a disease of the blood vessels, as well as a lung infection 

Many coronavirus patients die not of lung failure, but of blood clots. 

In the US, some doctors report as many as 40 percent of their coronavirus patients were developing blood clots. 

Clotting became such a common and significant concern that doctors started putting people admitted for coronavirus on blood thinners as a matter of course. 

But even on the clot-busting medications, the complication often persists. 

That’s been a baffling phenomenon for doctors and researchers, and one not seen in other coronaviruses, like those that cause the common cold, or the SARS virus that caused epidemics in 2002 and 2003, or even in severe flu patients, like those suffering from H1N1. 

The researchers at University Hospital, Zurich, saw a pattern in three patients that piqued their suspicions of how blood vessels might be the common thread between coronavirus and damage to organs like the heart and kidneys. 

One patient was a 71-year-old man who had previously undergone a kidney transplant. He died eight days aftre being admitted to the hospital for COVID-19. 

After his death, the doctors found inflammatory cells and signs that healthy cells had been dying off  in his transplanted kidney, heart, and small bowel, as well as clogs in the blood vessels of his lungs. 

The second person they studied was a 58-year-old woman who was obese, diabetic and had high blood pressure; 

Her lungs, followed by other organs began to fail. By her sixteenth day in the hospital, it was clear that part of her intestine was dying. She ultimately died of a heart attack. 

In an autopsy, they found the same signs of inflammation in the lining of blood vessels in her lungs, heart, kidneys, small intestine and liver. 

And in the third patient, a 69-year-old man with high blood pressure who had to be placed on a ventilator as coronavirus debilitated his lungs, they once again found that the blood vessel inflammation was causing cells in his small intestine to die off.

The researchers concluded that the virus was directly infecting this lining, called the endothelium, of the blood vessels. 

Coronavirus enters lung cells through a receptor – like a cellular dock – known as ACE2. 

These receptors are very common in the lungs, and the virus has fairly direct access to these receptors because it’s transmitted primarily through inhaled particles. 

But ACE2 receptors are also found along the endothelium.  

That makes blood vessels throughout the body susceptible to infection, which may explain the full-body effects seen in coronavirus patients who suffer from everything from ‘Covid toes’ to the multi-system inflammation condition, Kawasaki Syndrome, seen in children infected with coronavirus.  

Coronavirus US: 25% would increase risks to help economy


One-quarter of Americans say there are willing to accept greater risks of contracting the novel coronavirus if it would shorten the timeline of economic recovery, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that about 36 percent of people surveyed were ‘risk minimizers’ who did not want to accept any increases in risk of becoming ill with the virus to reopen businesses.

But about 25 percent of US adults, concerned about the duration needed for economic recovery, said they were willing to accept a nearly 16 percent risk of being infected if it means shortening recovery from three years down to two years.

What’s more, 13 percent of respondents said they would accept COVID-19 risks of 20 percent or greater to avoid any delay in reopening.  

The team, from Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, says the findings reveal which segments of the population support loosening or tightening restrictions as state governments slowly begin reopening regions.

Researchers asked nearly 6,000 people, split into four groups, about COVID-19 risk, the span of social distancing orders, and the ‘depth and duration of negative economic impacts’

About 36% were 'risk minimizers' who did not want to accept any increases in risk of contracting the virus to reopen businesses (top left) while more than 25% said they would accept a nearly 16% risk of being infected to shorten economic recovery from three years down to two years (bottom left)

About 36% were ‘risk minimizers’ who did not want to accept any increases in risk of contracting the virus to reopen businesses (top left) while more than 25% said they would accept a nearly 16% risk of being infected to shorten economic recovery from three years down to two years (bottom left)

For the study, published on pre-print site medRxiv.org, the team surveyed nearly 6,000 adults from across all 50 states between May 8 and May 20.

Researchers asked them question about the risk of contracting COVID-19 risk, the duration of social distancing orders, and the ‘depth and duration of negative economic impacts.’ 

About 37 percent of people considered reopening nonessential businesses to be the most important policy. 

This was followed, in order of importance, by reopening schools and colleges, allowing people to eat inside restaurant, reopening museums and parks, resuming religious service and resuming sporting events.

Respondents were split into four groups. Class 1 were ‘risk minimizers’ representing 36% of respondents, the majority, who were in favor of scenarios with lower incidences of contracting COVID-19.

About 44 percent of all Democrats surveyed and 40 percent of all Republicans were predicted to be in this group in comparison with 27 percent of independents. 

Class 2 were classified as ‘waiters’, people who preferred delaying the reopening of non-essential businesses until October while Class 3 were ‘pro-business’.

This means shortening economic recovery from five years to two years was two times more important to them than reducing the risk of COVID-19 cases increasing from two percent to 20 percent through 2020.

Class 4 was made up of about 13 percent of adults who strongly strongly prefer reopening nonessential businesses ‘now’ and were referred to as openers. 

About one in five independents was likely to be in this group compared to 12 percent of Republicans and six percent of Democrats. 

Around 13% of respondents said they would accept COVID-19 risks of 20 percent or greater to avoid a delay in reopening at all. Pictured: A security guard walks past shuttered businesses in downtown Miami, Florida, May 7

Around 13% of respondents said they would accept COVID-19 risks of 20 percent or greater to avoid a delay in reopening at all. Pictured: A security guard walks past shuttered businesses in downtown Miami, Florida, May 7

Classes 1 and 2 had a very small maximum acceptable risk for contracting COVID-19 in favor of non-essential businesses reopening.

But the ‘pro-business’ group was willing to increase their risk of contracting COVID-19 risk to speed up economic recovery. 

They said they would accept a 15.9 percent increase in coronavirus risk to reduce the recovery timeline by at least a year.

And the ‘openers’ group would accept a 25 percent risk of the virus to reopen essential businesses as soon as possible rather than July.

This risk increased if business had to wait until October to open, 

‘We hope that the results of our study can support government and public health officials who must make the difficult decisions about when to tighten and when to loosen social-distancing restrictions,’ the authors wrote. 

‘Our findings reveal useful information about segments of the population that will be more and less supportive of various policies, findings that do not necessarily track with information reported on social media and traditional media outlets.’  

In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths. 

Coronavirus US: Warmer weather alone will NOT stop spread


Summer may slow the growth of the coronavirus pandemic in the US but will NOT stop the spread without social distancing, Harvard study warns

  • Researchers looked at daily weather patterns in all 50 states and DC and compared it to the five-day incubation period of the coronavirus
  • States with maximum daily temperatures below 30F would see 250 cases per million at their peaks
  • But states with daily maximum temperatures above 60F would see 140 cases per million people their peaks
  • This means that Americans still need to follow preventative measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks during the summer 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Warmer temperatures during the summer will likely not slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that virus transmission slows down after temperatures reach 50F or above, but not significantly enough to make cases completely disappear.

States with temperatures higher than 60F would likely see, at their peak, about 140 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, per million people.  

The team, led by Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts, says the findings are evidence that just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that preventative measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks can be abandoned

Researchers looked at daily weather patterns in all 50 states and DC and compared it to the five-day incubation period of the coronavirus. Pictured: Red line is states with maximum daily temperatures above 52F and dotted line is states with temperatures below 52F

States with maximum daily temperatures below 30F would see 250 cases per million at their peaks, but states with daily maximum temperatures above 60F would see 140 cases per million people their peaks (above)

States with maximum daily temperatures below 30F would see 250 cases per million at their peaks, but states with daily maximum temperatures above 60F would see 140 cases per million people their peaks (above)

This means that Americans still need to follow preventative measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks during the summer. Pictured: Dr Joseph Varon, head of the COVID-19 unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, checks on COVID patient Melquiades Cervantes on May 6

This means that Americans still need to follow preventative measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks during the summer. Pictured: Dr Joseph Varon, head of the COVID-19 unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, checks on COVID patient Melquiades Cervantes on May 6

For the study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the team looked at daily weather patterns in all 50 states as well as Washington, DC between January 22 and April 3.

Researchers defined their time to diagnosis as five days based on the incubation period of the disease and compared it to the weather patterns. 

The average daily temperature was 50F. When the maximum daily temperature was greater than 52F, there was a lower rate of coronavirus five days later.

When the maximum daily temperature was 30F or lower, there was a higher rate of seeing coronavirus five days later.

Next, the team created a model of how many cases states would see at their peaks.

States with a maximum temperature of less than 52F would have 23 million more coronavirus cases each week at the peak of its epidemic compared to states with temperatures higher than 52F.  

Based on the incubation period, that means states with temperatures less than 52F would see 160 cases per million people and states with temperatures higher than 52F would see 137 cases per million people.

States with maximum temperatures 30F or below would see 100 more cases per million at the peak compared to a state temperatures were 60F or higher.

This means at peak, states with temperatures below 30F would see 250 per million people and states with temperatures above 60F would see 140 cases per million.

The model said the estimates remained the same even when accounting for factors such as population density. 

‘There is an association between temperature and rate of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus which may result in modest decline in the community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 with warmer weather,’ the authors wrote. 

‘This effect is modest, however, and is unlikely to slow down disease spread if containment measures are relaxed.’

Researchers say their study shows that warmer temperatures aren’t enough to stop the spread of the virus and that other measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks are still needed. 

‘While the rate of virus transmission may slow down as the maximum daily temperature rises to around 50 degrees [Fahrenheit], the effects of temperature rise beyond that don’t seem to be significant,’ co-author Dr Shiv Sehra, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.

‘Based on our analysis, the modest association suggests that it is unlikely that disease transmission will slow dramatically in the summer months from the increase in temperature alone.’ 

In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths.

Biotech firm claims its at-home coronavirus antibody test is 100% accurate


A California biotech company claims it has made a nearly 100 percent accurate coronavirus antibody test that screens for the immune cells using just a drop of dried blood from a finger prick. 

Enable Biosciences used the test on 31 people who had recovered after testing positive for coronavirus and compared their results to those of another 25 covid-negative recruits. 

According to a yet-to-be-published journal article on the results, the test was more than 99 percent specific and sensitive – two measures of antibody test accuracy that reflect its likelihood to mistake coronavirus for another pathogen, or to miss the infectio altogether. 

Antibody tests in the US, so far, have been woefully hit-or-miss, but able to reach consumers because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxed guidelines to expedite the use of these tests, which are designed to indicate who has already been infected, and may be somewhat protected from reinfection. 

The validation study is small, but the company has applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA and hopes that its finger prick test can allow people to collect their own blood from the comfort of home. 

Using a lancet like this one, Enable Biotech’s antibody test would let people collect a blood sample from an at-home finger prick, and ship it, dried on a collection card, back to the company’s lab. A small study found the test was 100% accurate (file)

However, their validation study presents the same one that so many other antibody tests have: it’s small. 

In a recent interview with DailyMail.com, Dr Susan Whittier, head of Columbia University’s pathology lab said that she received an antibody test that was advertised as being nearly 100 percent accurate. 

WHY IS IT DIFFICULT FOR SCIENTISTS TO MAKE AN ANTIBODY TEST SPECIFIC FOR SARS-COV-2? 

Coronaviruses invade cells through so-called ‘spike’ proteins, but those proteins take on different shapes in different coronaviruses. 

The University of Texas at Austin were able to map the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 in mid February – a breakthrough for developing a vaccine.

It was also a huge step forward for scientists developing an antibody test.

There are questions about which antigens (proteins) are best for an antibody test target, ‘although the viral spike protein is universally perceived as the obvious candidate’, Anna Petherick, a lecturer in public policy at University of Oxford, wrote in The Lancet.

Which part of the spike protein to use is less obvious, and is causing difficulty in creating a reliable antibody test.

‘There is a lot hanging on the uniqueness of the spike protein,’ Ms Petherick said.

‘The more unique it is, the lower the odds of crossreactivity with other coronaviruses— false positives resulting from immunity to other coronaviruses. 

‘The most similar of these is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which led to the SARS outbreak of 2002.

‘But another four coronaviruses cause the common cold, and ensuring there is no cross-reactivity to these is essential. ‘

A team at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (NY, USA), has published details of antibody tests that use either the whole spike protein.

Others, such as Peng Zho at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, who was part of the team that sequenced SARS-CoV-2’s genetic code, have used the nucleocapsid protein and the spike protein.

‘[The] nucleocapsid protein is the most abundant viral protein, which means it’s easy to detect. But we also chose spike protein because it’s very specific,’ Dr Zho said. ‘Actually, for coronavirus, the most divergent protein is [the] spike protein.’

When she read the fine print, it had been tested on ‘like, five people,’ she said. 

‘That’s crazy,’ she said. ‘Normally that would never happen, but in the middle of a pandemic, you’re allowed to push assays out because maybe perfect is the enemy of good.’

Currently, the FDA lists 13 antibody tests it has authorized and, in recent weeks, it’s begun removing and sending letters to makers of tests that it has reviewed and deemed too unproven for use. 

But that didn’t stop them from getting to market and selling to Americans, who might have been misled to believe they had some antibody protection against reinfection – though it remains unclear whether or how much immunity coronavirus antibodies confer – by th inaccurate tests. 

Blood samples to be analyzed for these tests still have to be collected by a health care provider before they are run in a lab. 

For some, that may discourage getting tested, because healthcare settings themselves are high-risk environments for coronavirus exposure. 

Enable wants to change that. 

The biotech firm developed a blood test for antibodies that was 100 percent sensitive and 99.6 percent specific in their tests that used blood collected 15 days after people developed COVID-19, and sent an application for its authorization to the FDA several weeks ago. 

Around the same time, they began recruiting participants for a validation study to see if their test performed as well when tasked with analyzing a dried blood sample. 

Dried blood samples could be collected at home and shipped to labs more cheaply and perhaps with less risk of damage or contamination.   

The company has now recruited some 150 volunteers locally and across the country. 

On Monday, it posted a pre-review copy of the results of testing 56 of those volutneers – 25 who were covid-positive but had recovered and 31 who had never had the infection. 

They had the volunteers use their kit, which includes a finger prick collection kit. 

They had to put between two and five blood spots on a collection card to dry. The cards contain preservative that keeps them safe for transportation. 

Participants then simply mailed them back to the San Francisco lab. 

According to the pre-print, the testing was 100 percent sensitive and specific, returning positives for everyone who had already been confirmed to have COVID-19, and negatives for those who hadn’t. 

‘This methodology allows people to get a high-quality test performed by laboratory professionals from the safety of their own home,’ wrote co-founder and CEO Dr Peter Robinson in a Monday blog post. 

‘In fact, with the fully-volunteer cohort we have tested so far, we report 100% accuracy of the test, even for kits sent in from as far as the east coast!’

He added that the company is in early talks with the FDA about approval of the test.