Archive for the ‘Infectious disease’ Category

Hydroxychloroquine linked to increase in COVID-19 deaths, heart risks

May 22nd, 2020
A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine. US President Donald Trump announced May 18 he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for almost two weeks as a preventative measure against COVID-19.

Enlarge / A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine. US President Donald Trump announced May 18 he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for almost two weeks as a preventative measure against COVID-19. (credit: Getty | George Frey)

Two closely related anti-malarial drugs championed by President Donald Trump as promising treatments for COVID-19 appear to substantially increase the risks of death and heart complications in patients hospitalized from the disease.

That’s according to the largest study yet on the topic, which involved more than 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on six continents. The peer-reviewed study, appearing Friday in The Lancet, was led by Mandeep Mehra, a professor of medicine at Harvard.

The drugs studied included chloroquine and its analogue hydroxychloroquine, which are used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as malaria. Early laboratory work suggested that they also have potent anti-viral properties. But small clinical studies looking into potential benefits for COVID-19 patients have largely provided mixed and inconclusive results to this point.

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Posted in anti-viral, chloroquine, COVID-19, drug develompment, hydroxychloroquine, Infectious disease, Pharmaceutical, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, Trump | Comments (0)

Maryland reopens—and quickly sees its largest COVID-19 spike

May 20th, 2020
Larry Hogan, governor of Maryland, wears a protective mask while talking to Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, during a tour of the distribution center of Coastal Sunbelt Produce in Laurel, Maryland, US, on Friday, May 15, 2020.

Enlarge / Larry Hogan, governor of Maryland, wears a protective mask while talking to Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, during a tour of the distribution center of Coastal Sunbelt Produce in Laurel, Maryland, US, on Friday, May 15, 2020. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Maryland reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday—just four days after the state began easing public health restrictions aimed at thwarting the spread of disease.

Though state officials note that an increase in testing and a backlog of test results may partly explain the spike, case counts overall suggest that disease transmission is not on the decline—and transmission could very easily increase as residents begin venturing into public spaces more frequently.

Maryland’s outcome may hold lessons for other states attempting their own reopening. As of today, May 20, all 50 states have begun easing restrictions at some level, according to The Washington Post.

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Posted in contact tracing, coronavirus, COVID-19, emerging infectious disease, Infectious disease, Maryland, public health, reopening, SARS-CoV-2, science, testing, virus | Comments (0)

11 million tests in 10 days: Wuhan lines up after COVID-19 cluster

May 15th, 2020
Medical workers take swab samples from residents (L) to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus, in a street in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on May 15, 2020. - Authorities in the pandemic ground zero of Wuhan have ordered mass COVID-19 testing for all 11 million residents after a new cluster of cases emerged over the weekend.

Enlarge / Medical workers take swab samples from residents (L) to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus, in a street in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on May 15, 2020. - Authorities in the pandemic ground zero of Wuhan have ordered mass COVID-19 testing for all 11 million residents after a new cluster of cases emerged over the weekend. (credit: Getty | STR)

Chinese officials have begun an unprecedented attempt to test 11 million people for COVID-19 in just 10 days.

Plans for the gargantuan feat came about earlier this week after officials in Wuhan—the capital city of China’s central Hubei province where the pandemic first began in January—identified a cluster of six new cases over the past weekend. The cluster included an 89-year-old symptomatic man and five asymptomatic cases, all of which lived in the same residential community.

The six cases were the first detection of new infections in more than a month in the hard-hit city—and government officials aren’t taking any chances when it comes to thwarting a dreaded second wave of infections. They quickly announced a plan to test all residents of the city, which number roughly 11 million.

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Posted in china, COVID-19, emerging infectious disease, Infectious disease, outbreak, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, testing, wuhan | Comments (0)

Reports of mass graves as Latin America becomes new pandemic epicenter

May 13th, 2020
A man in protective gear kneels amidst makeshift headstones.

Enlarge / Nursing professionals light candles to honor the 84 nurse victims of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country amidst the coronavirus pandemic on May 12, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (credit: Getty | Miguel Schincariol)

As deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic begin to plateau and slowly decline in some parts of Europe and the United States, the devastation is reaching a fever pitch in Latin America.

Death tolls in cities and areas of Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador are reaching alarming levels—in some places five-times higher than normal death rates—according to an analysis by The New York Times.

While some of the official death tolls from the pandemic remain low, a review of mortality data by the Times reveals significant increases. The death counts include those directly from COVID-19 and also those from other causes—which in some cases may be due in part to people not being able to receive a standard level of care while health systems are overwhelmed during the pandemic.

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Posted in Brazil, coronavirus, COVID-19, ecuador, emerging infectious disease, Infectious disease, latin America, outbreak, pandemic, peru, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science | Comments (0)

COVID-19 resurges in reopened countries; Wuhan sees first cluster in a month

May 12th, 2020
A road is full of masked people on scooters and bikes.

Enlarge / WUHAN, CHINA - MAY 11: Residents wears face masks while riding their bicycles and scooters. The government has begun lifting outbound travel restrictions after almost 11 weeks of lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19. (credit: Getty | Stringer)

The World Health Organization on Monday called for continued vigilance as several areas that have eased lockdown restriction began to see a resurgence in COVID-19 cases—and the United States begins unbuttoning as well.

The Chinese city of Wuhan—where the pandemic began last December—saw its first cluster of cases in at least a month. The city began reopening in early April.

The cluster was just six cases: an 89-year-old symptomatic man and five asymptomatic cases. All of the infected lived in the same residential community. However, it was enough to spook government officials.

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Posted in COVID-19, dr. anthony fauci, Germany, Infectious disease, pandemic, public health, reopening, SARS-CoV-2, science, South Korea, wuhan | Comments (0)

COVID-19 spread in White House sends top US health officials into quarantine [Updated]

May 11th, 2020
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, flanked by US President Donald Trump, speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 22, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, flanked by US President Donald Trump, speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Mandel Ngan)

Update 5/12/2020, 4:15pm ET: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Homeland Security released a statement Tuesday saying that they have determined that Drs. Redfield, Hahn, and Fauci are "providing essential services" in the government's COVID-19 response efforts. As such, they can continue their work without being in quarantine and "will participate in meetings on the White House complex when their attendance is needed." This is contingent upon them remaining asymptomatic, and they will be screened and monitored for fever and other symptoms, wear a face covering, and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.

Original story from 5/11/2020 11:57am ET:
The country's top health officials battling the COVID-19 pandemic are now in self-quarantine or a "modified" quarantine following coronavirus exposure at the White House.

In the past week, many White House staffers, secret service members, and aides have tested positive for the virus, which generally spreads by respiratory droplets. Those infected include a military valet to President Trump; Ivanka Trump's personal assistant; Vice President Mike Pence's spokesperson, Katie Miller; and at least 11 members of the US Secret Service.

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Posted in CDC, coronavirus, COVID-19, dr. anthony fauci, fda, Infectious disease, NIH, public health, quarantine, SARS-CoV-2, science, Trump, White House | Comments (0)

CDC guide to reopening was trashed by the Trump admin. It just leaked

May 7th, 2020
Huge facade for CDC headquarters against a beautiful sky.

Enlarge / Signage stands outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Public health experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have leaked their recommendations on how to safely reopen businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic—after officials in the Trump administration rejected the guidance and allegedly told CDC officials their plan would "never see the light of day."

The 17-page document (PDF found here) was initially set to be published last Friday but was nixed. Instead, it was released to the Associated Press by a CDC official who was not authorized to release it.

The guidance lays out detailed, phased recommendations for how to safely reopen child care programs, schools, day camps, faith communities, businesses with vulnerable workers, restaurants, bars, and mass transit. Though some of the general points laid out already appear on federal websites—such as an emphasis on hand hygiene—the document uniquely offers tailored recommendations for each type of business.

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Posted in CDC, COVID-19, Infectious disease, outbreak, public health, reopening, SARS-CoV-2, science, Trump | Comments (0)

COVID-19 wallops meat plant workers; shortages hit shelves, fast food

May 6th, 2020
A sign outside the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant, one of the country's largest known Coronavirus clusters, is seen on April 21, 2020 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Enlarge / Smithfield Foods pork plant in South Dakota is closed indefinitely in the wake of its coronavirus outbreak. (credit: Getty | Kerem Yucel)

Meat- and poultry-processing facilities have become hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks, with cases spreading in over 100 plants across the country.

Federal and state public health researchers reported Friday, May 1, that at least 115 meat and poultry plants in 19 states have had been affected by the pandemic. In all, the researchers counted at least 4,913 sickened workers and at least 20 deaths. The findings are likely an undercount given different testing strategies at facilities and the fact that some facilities did not submit any data.

For instance, the only data researchers had from Iowa indicated that only 377 workers in two plants in the state had been sickened. But on Tuesday, May 5, Iowa health officials announced that there were at least 1,653 cases from four plants that had outbreaks—meaning 10 percent or more of the workforce had been sickened.

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Posted in beef, CDC, COVID-19, Infectious disease, Meat, outbreak, poultry, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, tyson | Comments (0)

“Hell no!” States aren’t ready for Trump’s phased reopening, experts say

April 17th, 2020
US President Donald Trump departs from a news conference at the White House in Washington D.C., U.S. on Thursday, April 16, 2020. Some U.S. states and employers may be able to abandon most social distancing practices to curb the coronavirus outbreak within four weeks under guidelines the Trump administration issued to governors on Thursday.

Enlarge / US President Donald Trump departs from a news conference at the White House in Washington D.C., U.S. on Thursday, April 16, 2020. Some U.S. states and employers may be able to abandon most social distancing practices to curb the coronavirus outbreak within four weeks under guidelines the Trump administration issued to governors on Thursday. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Public health experts are offering mixed reviews of the Trump Administration’s broad, nonbinding guidelines for states to gradually lift social distancing measures currently in place to slow the pandemic spread of COVID-19.

The guidelines, unveiled Thursday, aim to avoid a second, overwhelming wave of disease by easing restrictions in three progressive phases. Each of those phases is gated, meaning that a set of criteria should be met before a state can enter a specific phase. Those gating criteria include states having two-week-long “downward trajectories” of confirmed COVID-19 cases and reports of infections with symptoms similar to COVID-19. States must also have the hospital capacity to treat all patients without “crisis care” and have a “robust” testing program.

The guidelines further lay out core “preparedness responsibilities” that each state should maintain throughout the phases. This criteria includes the ability to test all symptomatic cases and trace their contacts; to set up sentinel surveillance for asymptomatic cases; to have a sufficient supply chain of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns, etc) for healthcare workers; and to have plans to protect at-risk workers and members of the public, such as healthcare workers, the elderly in living facilities, and workers and members of the public using mass transit.

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Posted in COVID-19, Infectious disease, pandemic, Policy, public health, science, social distancing, Trump | Comments (0)

WHO answers Trump’s attack with call for unity against COVID-19

April 15th, 2020
A serious man in a suit appears frustrated.

Enlarge / World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquaters in Geneva on March 11, 2020. (credit: Getty | Fabrice Coffrini)

The director-general of the World Health Organization called for global unity and continued focus on saving lives and fighting the common enemy, COVID-19, on Wednesday—a day after US President Donald Trump attacked the organization for allegedly “severely mismanaging” the pandemic response. Trump announced he would halt funding to the WHO until his administration reviewed its response.

The WHO, an agency formed in the 1940s by the United Nations and supported by its member states, receives around 15 percent of its funding from the United States.

“We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization,” WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (aka Dr. Tedros) said in a press briefing Wednesday. “With support from the people and government of the United States, WHO works to improve the health of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” he went on.

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Posted in CDC, COVID-19, Dr. Tedros, emerging infectious disease, Infectious disease, pandemic, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, Trump, WHO | Comments (0)