Wearing a fitness device could help the battle to control the spread of Covid-19.
Scientists from the Scripps Research Translational Institute believe using a mobile app to collect activity from consenting adults may slow down the global pandemic. The DETECT Study was launched in March and has concluded that wearable devices like the Fitbit could identify Covid-19 symptoms including changes in heart rate, sleep, and activity levels.
“What’s exciting here is that we now have a validated digital signal for Covid-19. The next step is to use this to prevent emerging outbreaks from spreading,” said Eric Topol, MD, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “Roughly 100 million Americans already have a wearable tracker or smartwatch and can help us; all we need is a tiny fraction of them – just 1 per cent or 2 per cent – to use the app.”
Adults living in the U.S. have been invited to participate in the study by downloading the research app MyDataHelps, which will gather diagnostic health changes and also ask people to report any symptoms they may be experiencing. Changes detected by the fitness device will be analysed to see if they are outside of the individual’s normal range for sleep, resting heart rate, or activity level.
“One of the greatest challenges in stopping Covid-19 from spreading is the ability to quickly identify, trace and isolate infected individuals,” explained study author Giorgio Quer, PhD, director of artificial intelligence at Scripps Research Translational Institute. “Early identification of those who are pre-symptomatic or even asymptomatic would be especially valuable, as people may potentially be even more infectious during this period. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Experts are hoping a predictive model may eventually be able to identify coronavirus hotspots early.
More than 30,500 people had agreed to take part in the study as of 7 June, and scientists are hoping to get at least 100,000 individuals to participate.
The study was published in Nature Medicine.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House coronavirus task force warned that much of the country is in the grips of an “unrelenting” surge in COVID-19 cases and urged tough countermeasures, as the number of U.S. infections reported on Thursday hit a new daily record of more than 91,000.
The hardest-hit regions in the West and Midwest encompass a number of battleground states expected to play a pivotal role in Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election contest between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
“We are on a very difficult trajectory. We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading task force member and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said coronavirus cases were on the rise in 47 states, and patients were overwhelming hospitals across the country.
“If things do not change, if they continue on the course we’re on, there’s gonna be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths,” Fauci said in a CNBC interview on Wednesday night.
The White House coronavirus task force has warned states in the middle and western parts of the country that aggressive measures will be necessary to curb the virus’ spread, according to weekly state reports seen by CNN.
“We continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and West. This will require aggressive mitigation to control both the silent, asymptomatic spread and symptomatic spread,” one state’s report said.
The ominous assessment was echoed on Thursday by Dr. Ashish Jha, Brown University’s dean of public health, who told Reuters, “things are very, very bad in the United States right now.”
“We are having some of the largest breakouts that we’ve had during the entire pandemic,” he said, adding that the initial waves of infections last spring were more localized.
“And nine, 10 months into this pandemic, we are still largely not quite prepared.”
At least a dozen states – Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Oregon – reported record one-day increases in COVID-19 cases on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.
Seventeen states reported a record number of hospitalizations, a metric that has soared across the country and is independent of how much testing is being done.
Nationally, health authorities on Thursday confirmed 91,248 more people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the highest single-day increase in cases reported to date, according to a Reuters tally. The previous 24-hour record tally was 84,169 cases, set just last Friday.
The number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 stood at
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — While the fall coronavirus surge is chiefly attributed to cooler weather and more time spent indoors, officials say that decisions made by both institutions and individuals have also been instrumental in foiling suppression.
One string of cases in Montgomery County was traced to a recent recreational event which was held at a private school in Philadelphia. The event occurred even though school officials and participating students knew of a recent outbreak in the school.
>>Montco Warns Of ‘Exponential’ COVID Surge, Hospitalizations Rise
A student from Montgomery County attended the event, and became contagious without showing symptoms, according to Commissioner Val Arkoosh. Not knowing he was infected, he attended a different recreational event in Montgomery County days later, passing the virus on to at least five adults.
Two of those five adults were coaches of youth sports teams, Arkoosh said. Those two coaches then spread it to children on their teams.
“This is an illustration of quickly this can spread, how individuals who are contagious, who don’t have symptoms, can infect a number of individuals,” Arkoosh said. “And how those individuals can continue to spread the virus.”
The county did not specify the nature of the event in Philadelphia or provide details on where the spread occurred in this instance in Montgomery County. But transmission has been everywhere, especially in schools that have reopened.
There have been a total of 564 “close contacts” with the virus in schools that have reopened across the county thus far this school year, officials said Wednesday. They did not say how many of those individuals had tested positive.
The number was a result of the county’s robust contact tracing program. A close contact is defined as any student who is within six feet of a student who is infected.
Where these contacts take place largely depends on the school. Many schools are large enough, or have been able to plan their reopens carefully enough, that students are almost always six feet away from one another in classrooms.
However, there are many places where this is impossible. One infected student could easily become a “close contact” for dozens throughout a single school day, officials note.
This article originally appeared on the Norristown Patch
The White House Coronavirus Task Force has reportedly warned of a “persistent and broad spread” of COVID-19 infections across the U.S. West, advocating stricter prevention efforts to help slow the spread of transmission, per Reuters.
“We are on a very difficult trajectory. We’re going in the wrong direction,” Anthony Fauci, the most prominent task force member, said.
PROPOSAL TO LET CORONAVIRUS SPREAD NATURALLY THROUGH US POPULATION INTERESTS WHITE HOUSE, ALARMS MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT
EUROPE REENTERS LOCKDOWNS AS COVID-19 CASES SURGE
THE FIRST DEATH FROM A CORONAVIRUS REINFECTION HAS BEEN REPORTED
US SENATOR TOOK OFF MASK REPEATEDLY ON FLIGHT. HE CHAIRS COMMITTEE THAT OVERSEES AIRLINE SAFETY
Data reveal that cases are high and remaining high in states like Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas and Minnesota, among dozens of others. Many of these states are key battleground states that have potential to determine the outcome of the competitive election between incumbent President Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Fauci confirmed that new cases are increasing in 47 states, along with hospitalizations.
Wisconsin, in particular, is on track to run out of intensive care unit beds.
“Every single positive increases the probability or likelihood of having another patient who is hospitalized,” Bill Melms, chief medical officer for Marshfield Clinic Health System, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
On a national level, the two-week change in new cases is up by 41 percent, with fatalities increasing by nine percent on average.
Roughly 1,016 new COVID-19 deaths and 81,457 new cases were reported on Oct. 28, per The New York Times.
“We continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and West. This will require aggressive mitigation to control both the silent, asymptomatic spread and symptomatic spread,” one state report said.
A nationwide lockdown has still not been issued, and some states do not have a mandatory mask order, such as Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Most of these states are experiencing surges in new cases.
KANSAS’S COVID-19 POSITIVITY RATE SURPASSES 20 PERCENT
MOST VOTERS BELIEVE THE CORONAVIRUS IS OUT OF CONTROL IN THE US, POLL SAYS
CDC ‘STRONGLY RECOMMENDS’ ALL PASSENGERS ON PLANES, TRAINS, BUSES WEAR MASKS TO SLOW SPREAD OF COVID-19
THE COMING WEEKS WILL BE ‘DARKEST OF THE ENTIRE PANDEMIC,’ INFECTIOUS DISEASES EXPERT SAYS
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s number of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations continued to surge higher Wednesday as medical professionals have begun to express concern that hospitals could be overwhelmed with patients if no action is taken to slow the virus spread.
Iowa hospitals had 596 coronavirus patients Wednesday, by far the highest number so far in Iowa. The 113 patients admitted in the past 24 hours also was the highest seen since the virus surfaced in Iowa in March. The number of patients needing intensive care unit services has also trended upward in the past month.…
The country is facing another cycle of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it may be the hardest yet, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Monday.
“I think we’re right now at the cusp of what’s going to be exponential spread in parts of the country,” Gottlieb said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“If we took aggressive steps right now, we could potentially forestall the worst of it, but we’re not going to do that,” because there’s a lot of fatigue and “policy resistance to taking strong action,” he said.
“We really have two or three months of the acute phase of this pandemic to get through,” he said. “This is going to be the hardest phase, probably.”
Worst number of cases yet
That’s as the country continues to report the most number of cases we’ve seen to date. The seven-day average of daily new cases reached an all-time high of 68,767 on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The previous record of 67,293 was set July 22.
“Unfortunately, I think the statement about ‘new record’ is going to be repeated over and over again in the days and weeks to come,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
“I expect that those numbers will continue to climb. Hospitalizations are going to continue to climb.”
The abysmal week was marked by the two worst days of daily new cases reported since the pandemic began. More than 83,000 new cases were reported both Friday and Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins.
To be clear: This surge reflects an onslaught of new infections — not just increased testing, contrary to what skeptics claim.
“You know why we have cases? Because we test so much,” President Donald Trump claimed at a rally Saturday in North Carolina. “And in many ways, it’s good. And in many ways, it’s foolish.”
But the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases has soared 23% in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins data. The seven-day average of new tests performed has risen only 2.87% over the past week, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
And we are long past the point of just urban, heavily populated areas being the only places hit hard. South Dakota’s test positivity rate is 23%, the state’s health department said Monday. That means of every 100 people tested, 23 have been infected. The World Health Organization in May advised governments not to reopen until test positivity rates were 5% or lower for at least 14 days.
States to receive 36.7 million rapid tests
The federal government is shipping 36.7 million rapid Covid-19 tests, and states should be
Rajesh Khanna (background) unidentified scientist in foreground Kris Hanning via University of Arizona
This article originally appeared here on Salon.com
A new study from University of Arizona Health Sciences found that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) may actually have a pain-diminishing effect on those it infects, particularly in the initial phase of infection.
The finding may partially explain how the virus is able to so easily spread from people who think they are perfectly healthy, yet are actually pre-symptomatic. The study was published this month in the scientific journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain.
Specifically, the researchers believe that the novel coronavirus co-opts a specific pain receptor in the body, effectively co-opting it and thus reducing the experience of pain in the body.
While generally, less pain is better in medicine, the authors of this study note that this behavior by the virus is not necessarily a good thing. “A ‘silencing’ of pain via subversion of VEGF-A/NRP-1 [the receptor in question] signaling may underlie increased disease transmission in asymptomatic individuals,” the authors conclude. In other words, someone with the virus might feel well and fine thanks to the way the virus is co-opting their experience of pain.
“There are many people being infected with Covid across the globe and it comes to our realization, in the last few months or so, that there are some symptoms that people experienced that are affecting the nervous system,” Dr. Rajesh Khanna, lead author and corresponding author and professor of pharmacology at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, told Salon. “People have been complaining of headaches, muscle pains, joint pain, brain fog, loss of taste and smell. All of these things have been coming and being recorded. And so what we’re adding to this litany of symptoms is the idea, in the initial stages, when you don’t have full blown COVID-19, when you’re perhaps asymptomatic or presymptomatic, you have this fact where the virus itself is giving you pain relief.”
He added, “So you’re feeling like you have no pain, which means that you are — quite wittingly, perhaps — spreading the virus. So that’s really the point of our finding, which is that you’re getting this unwanted or surreptitious kind of pain relief that’s being provided by this virus early on.”
If more studies bear out the findings of the Arizona researchers, it would constitute another way that the virus seems to cleverly encourage transmission before patients know that they are infected.
Dr. Henry F. Raymond, an epidemiologist at the Rutgers School of Public Health, previously told Salon that the novel coronavirus appeared to be in a class of infectious disease that spread before the original infected person is aware of being infected. “Depending on the person someone could become infected with SARS-CoV2 and never exhibit symptoms but still shed virus in respiratory excretions,” Raymond told Salon. “We should assume there is potential asymptomatic spread and take the necessary precautions
Indiana and Indianapolis have spent millions to hire contact tracers to reach out to people infected with the coronavirus and others they have been in contact with to help stop the spread. Here’s how that works.
Local health authorities should look to universities for examples of the best way to deal with current coronavirus outbreaks, government experts told Southern Indiana officials at meetings earlier this week.
Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force met with hospital staff and county officials from the southwest and southeast corners of the state, which have seen their coronavirus cases, positivity rates, and hospitalizations climb dramatically.
Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all seen coronavirus spread in rural areas, Birx said in a telephone interview with IndyStar on Friday. She said she has been meeting with officials in rural areas to ensure that they are aware of how serious the virus can be. People living in rural areas may be wrongly assuming that because they do not live in crowded surroundings they are safe from infection.
“We really talked about how much spread there is again in the rural area and our concern that individuals in rural areas sometimes believe that they’re naturally socially distanced,” she said. “Often rural communities have smaller community hospitals that can easily get overrun.”
While statewide more than 30% of intensive care unit beds are currently available, in the southwestern corner of the state just under 21% are open, and in the southeastern corner of the state just 11% of beds are open.
Some communities might consider following in the footsteps of universities that have implemented randomized testing programs to find asymptomatic students and quarantine them, which helps curb the spread of the virus, Birx said.
“Because they’re able to find that silent spread, they can do that 10-day isolation of asymptomatic students and prevent that community spread,” she said.
Communities might decide to use the new federal antigen tests being provided to states to conduct random weekly surveillance among populations such as first responders, police, prison staff, health care workers and others to try to ferret out the coronavirus.
Universities that have such programs in place have done a better job at controlling virus spread than others that do not have such programs, Birx said. But even with such programs, campuses such as the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame have seen recent spikes in cases due to parties and other social gatherings.
Off-campus many cases of the coronavirus also trace back to smaller gatherings with friends and family members when people let down their guard and their masks, Birx said. She said persuading people to take the steps known to prevent virus spread — wearing a mask, watching social distance, and washing hands — can be challenging, especially because people may be infected and not realize it.
“That concept of being infectious but not showing any symptoms is still a difficult concept,” Birx said. “That is hard for people to
By Nancy Lapid
(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Wildfire smoke likely helped to spread COVID-19
Large wildfires may be linked to increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the San Francisco area, according to a paper in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. Researchers found that between March and September, increases in smoke particles, other wildfire pollutants and carbon monoxide levels corresponded to increases in daily COVID-19 diagnoses and total COVID-19 deaths. While correlation does not necessarily mean causality, coauthor Sultan Ayoub Meo of King Saud University in Saudi Arabia said air pollution provides a means for viruses to move around the environment. These tiny pollution particles, along with the microorganisms they carry, “can easily be inhaled deep into the lungs and cause infections,” Meo said. “Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas which can damage our lungs, resulting as a triggering factor for an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the wildfire region,” he told Reuters. (https://bit.ly/2FXvAh0)
Antiviral mouthwash could help curb coronavirus transmission
Mouthwashes with antiviral ingredients could help decrease COVID-19 transmission by reducing viral loads in the mouths of infected patients when they cough, sneeze or speak, according to a paper in the Journal of Dental Research published on Thursday. Studies have found that rinses containing cetylpyridinium chloride or povidone-iodine can reduce the oral coronavirus load; other promising compounds include hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine, cyclodextrin, Citrox, and certain essential oils. Coauthor Dr. Florence Carrouel of University Claude Bernard Lyon in France told Reuters everyone should be using these mouthwashes because people can be infected and not realize it. While more studies are needed to determine appropriate regimens, she suggests using three doses of antiviral mouthwash the day before a meeting, and one dose the morning of the event. COVID-19 patients should be using mouthwash regularly for seven to 10 days. (https://bit.ly/35r1efw)
Common-cold antibodies may hijack body’s COVID-19 response
A phenomenon called “antigenic sin” may explain why some COVID-19 patients become critically ill, researchers say. Because the new virus shares some features with coronaviruses that cause common colds, the body’s immune response can include antibodies that previously learned to recognize and attack those older viruses. This can in turn detract from the body’s ability to fight COVID-19, because the common cold antibodies do not reliably attack the new virus. In severely ill COVID-19 patients, the immune response directed at other coronaviruses is higher than in mildly ill patients, researchers reported on medRxiv ahead of peer review. This situation – when the body reacts to a new invader based on its “memory” of previous invaders – has been seen before and is called “original antigenic sin.” New vaccines must be able to prompt an immune response against this new virus, not merely boost immune responses toward common cold viruses, said coauthor Gijsbert van Nierop of Erasmus Medical
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, Oct. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A cough could spread a cloud of COVID-19 throughout a room, but a face mask can greatly shrink the size and spread of that cloud, a new study finds.
In fact, the volume of the cloud without a mask is about seven times larger than with a surgical mask and 23 times larger than with an N95 mask, the researchers found.
“We found that anything that reduces the distance traveled by the cloud, such as a mask, handkerchief, or coughing into an elbow, should greatly reduce the region over which the droplets disperse upon coughing, and therefore the chances of infection,” said researcher Rajneesh Bhardwaj, from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, in Mumbai.
Using jet theory and data from the literature, Bhardwaj and colleague Amit Agrawal found the first 5 to 8 seconds after coughing is critical for suspending droplets in the air and the spread of the disease. After that, the cough cloud starts to break up.
The study findings helped the researchers develop a formula to determine the maximum number of people that can be in a hospital ward, and the rate at which air in a room, elevator, movie theater, car, plane cabin or restaurant needs to be circulated to keep the air fresh and reduce the odds of infection.
The report was published online Oct. 20 in the journal Physics of Fluids.
“We estimate this volume of the air, which may help to design ventilation of closed spaces and consequently reduce the spread of the disease,” Agrawal said in a news release from the American Institute of Physics.
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