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COVID-19 roundup: Flu may be linked with coronavirus spread, RA drug could aid recovery | Daily Sabah – Daily Sabah

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This week’s roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 investigates the possible link between influenza outbreaks and the spread of the coronavirus, newly discovered proteins SARS-CoV-2 has that may be responsible for immune triggers and how other drugs can be utilized in the fight against this infectious disease.

Flu may be linked to coronavirus spread

Influenza outbreaks may be linked with the spread of COVID-19 infections, according to a European study.

The researchers created a mathematical model of transmission of the coronavirus in Belgium, Italy, Norway and Spain. It calculates that higher rates of influenza infections would be associated with increased coronavirus transmission in each of the countries, Matthieu Domenech de Celles of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin told Reuters. He said the estimates, published Wednesday on the medical website medRxiv in advance of peer review, align with earlier research.

In Italy, he noted, higher rates of flu vaccination have been linked with lower rates of death from COVID-19. Also, he said, a U.S. study of nearly 11,700 people tested for COVID-19 found that those who had flu vaccines were less likely to have a positive test.

None of these studies proves that flu vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19 or an individual’s risk for it, and other factors might explain the associations. Still, de Celles said, in advance of “the upcoming ‘twindemic'” of seasonal flu and COVID-19 in the northern hemisphere, “our results suggest the need to increase vaccination against influenza,” which may not only reduce the burden of influenza but also limit COVID-19 cases. (Here’s why you should consider having a flu shot this year)

Rheumatoid arthritis drug found to aid COVID-19 recovery

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients being treated with Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral medication remdesivir recovered about a day sooner, on average, if they also received Eli Lilly and Co.’s rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib, clinical trial investigators found.

The trial, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), included more than 1,000 patients. The study also showed that compared to patients who did not receive the arthritis drug, those who did had better outcomes at 15 days after they enrolled in the trial. Based on the data, Lilly plans to discuss the potential for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company announced the results of the so-called ACTT-2 trial in a news release Monday. The results have not been formally published yet.

Experts tell when to test for COVID-19 antibodies

COVID-19 antibody tests – so-called serology tests – are widely available, but evidence of their usefulness is limited, the Infectious Diseases Society of America said as it unveiled new guidelines published earlier this month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Antibodies to the coronavirus do not show up in the blood for quite a while after someone becomes infected, so serology tests are unreliable for diagnosing COVID-19 unless a patient has been sick for weeks, according to the guidelines.

The panel of authors, led by Dr. Kimberly Hanson of the University of Utah, listed three instances in which a test for antibodies to the coronavirus would be warranted. The first one is when doctors strongly suspect a patient has COVID-19 but gold-standard diagnostic PCR molecular tests that look for genetic components of the virus have been negative and at least two weeks have passed since the onset of symptoms.

The second is when a child has signs and symptoms of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a life-threatening condition that has been linked with previous coronavirus infection. The third is when public health officials conduct so-called serosurveillance studies to track the proportion of the population that has been exposed to the virus.

Newly discovered coronavirus proteins may be immune triggers

Scientists have discovered 23 previously unknown proteins made by the coronavirus, including four that might be triggering patients’ immune system to act – or in some cases, to overreact – and cause severe illness.

For the most part, proteins in this new virus have been identified based on computational predictions and similarities with other coronaviruses. But these researchers took a different approach.

By tracking protein-producing “machines” in cells called ribosomes, they were able to map exactly which parts of the genetic code of the virus were being translated into proteins, study co-leader Yaara Finkel of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel told Reuters. Most of the newly discovered proteins probably have regulatory functions in the virus – that is, they help keep it active – except for the four “full-fledged proteins” that might be alerting the immune system to the presence of a foreign invader, Finkel and colleagues wrote in a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

More work is required to determine the roles these proteins play in infection, Finkel said, but that knowledge could “lead to a better understanding of the progression of the infection, as well as better ways of either treating COVID-19 or preventing the dangerous immune over-response.”

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Hinshaw cuts runny nose, sore throat from list of COVID-19 symptoms forcing kids to isolate: Groundwork – Edmonton Journal

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She didn’t have the heart to drag the last one, a five-year-old, kicking and screaming to get the nasal swab. “It was all so clear she just had a cold,” she said.

By now, parents are running out of paid leave themselves, said Joanna Coleman, who has had to leave work four separate times so far, with three children off school 13 days, for a variety of headaches and colds that tested negative for COVID-19.

At one point, the school sent her daughter home simply because her nose ran for 15 minutes after coming in from the cold. A single mom, she is now out of paid vacation and sick days. “I do understand the need for this,” she said. But anything that can safely streamline the process is appreciated. “We’re not going to be back to normal for a very long time.”

Data driving the change

Hinshaw said Alberta Health feels confident about making this change based on three different data sets — data showing a similar change did not significantly increase transmission in Ontario schools when it was made Oct. 1, symptom descriptions collected since the start of the pandemic after children test positive, and new data from Alberta on the children with a runny nose or sore throat who test negative for COVID-19.

On that last data set, technical challenges meant Alberta Health Services only recently started asking for a full list of symptoms from each person requesting a COVID-19 test online, Hinshaw said.

But in the last week, for example, 3,300 children under 18 said they had a runny nose when they applied for a test. Of those, 600 children had no other symptom. Two of those children then tested positive, and only one of them had no known connection to a positive COVID-19 case.

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Alberta adds 477 COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations set pandemic high – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
Alberta’s top doctor reported 477 cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths on Thursday.

The province once again set a record of active cases with 4,921. There are 2,277 infections in the Edmonton zone and 1,879 infections in the Calgary zone.

A man in his 40s died of COVID-19 in the south zone, Alberta Health said. The other deaths involved four people in their 80s and 90s in the Edmonton and Calgary zones.

There are 130 Albertans with COVID-19 in hospital, a pandemic high, including 18 in ICU.

Alberta has reported 27,042 cases and 318 deaths.

The province will do maintenance on its data site this weekend and will not report COVID-19 numbers on Monday. Hinshaw will give her next update on Tuesday.

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Flu Vaccine – 92.3 The Dock (iHeartRadio)

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Flu vaccine is available at 48 local pharmacies across Grey Bruce, offering flu shots to those ages 5 and older. The high demand for flu shots this year may result in pharmacies running out before their next shipment but they are constantly being re-supplied; check with your local pharmacy for availability. This supply/demand issue is occurring province-wide.

Flu vaccine is available through health care providers – most health care providers are doing appointment only and a few are providing mass-immunization clinics due to COVID-19. All health care providers should have flu vaccine available for clients now. Throughout October, health care providers have focussed on vaccinating high-risk clients. With that mostly complete, attention turns to vaccinations for the general population.

High dose flu is available in very limited quantities from pharmacies and health care providers.

Regarding time of receiving the flu vaccine, the general message is “don’t wait for a particular flu vaccine – get vaccinated. There is no preferential flu vaccine.” Nevertheless, your health care provider is the best judge on when it would be optimal for you to get the vaccine based on your individual health status, their expertise with understanding the community health need in their catchment area, and the plans they have to allocate resources to address these needs.

“It is likely that flu virus and COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter.” Says Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr Ian Arra. “Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with the flu and patients with COVID 19. This means getting a flu shot during 2020 season is more important than ever!”

While getting a flu shot will not protect against COVID 19, there are important benefits:

1. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death.
2. Getting a flu vaccine can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19. (www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm)

 

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