The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.
Drugstore COVID-19 tests predict short-term infectiousness
Drugstore rapid COVID-19 tests, less sensitive than gold-standard PCR tests, might yield a negative result in 15 minutes while failing to detect virus particles but those same particles might pose no risk of transmission in the very short term, according to a report posted on Thursday on medRxiv ahead of peer review.
The researchers first performed these antigen tests on swab samples from 181 individuals with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections. Next, they took the virus from the swabs and tried to grow it in test tubes. When viral loads were below the antigen tests’ level of detection, the virus particles were often incapable of growing.
People with low viral loads and negative antigen tests may become infectious “a day or two or three days later,” said Dr. James Kirby of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Therefore, to be most effective, antigen tests should be used immediately before an event or contact with those at greater risk from infection.” The swabs must be collected for testing carefully, following the instructions provided with the testing kits, he added. “In other words, you want a really good sampling of the inside of your nose.”
Breakthrough COVID-19 often severe in cancer patients
Vaccinated people with cancer should not underestimate their risks from breakthrough cases of COVID-19, researchers warn.
Among 54 cancer patients who became infected despite receiving a two-dose vaccine from Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech or a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson – before booster doses were recommended – 65% needed to be hospitalized, 19% ended up in intensive care units, and 13% died, according to data from the international COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium.
The study did not analyze the vaccines’ efficacy at preventing infections in the first place. But among those who did become infected, COVID-19 was no less severe than it was in a comparison group of 1,656 unvaccinated cancer patients with COVID-19, researchers reported on Friday in Annals of Oncology. The risks were greatest for patients with blood cancers.
“Many studies … have suggested that patients with cancer don’t create a strong immune response, and this is the first large study that likely shows the consequences of this,” said Dr. Jeremy Warner of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “Additional doses and boosters are critical, as are continued masking, social distancing, and encouragement of all close contacts of patients with cancer to get vaccinated.”
Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development.
(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Howard Goller)
Third COVID-19 outbreak declared this month at Cambridge Memorial Hospital – TheRecord.com
Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH) has declared its third COVID-19 outbreak of the month.
The outbreak was announced on Jan. 18 in medicine B (wing B, level 4) with two patients and one staff member testing positive.
A hospital outbreak is declared when two or more patients and/or staff test positive for a respiratory illness that was acquired in hospital within a time frame that is consistent with the epidemiology of the disease, and when there is a link between the cases.
According to CMH, safety precautions added include: enhanced surveillance by increased swabbing and testing non-infected patients and staff; enhanced cleaning, especially to high touch areas; and visits to inpatients have been paused for the entire hospital as of Jan. 8.
Virtual visits and phone connections for patients and families can be arranged.
The outbreak in medicine B could be declared over on Jan. 28 after 10 consecutive days with no new infections.
The hospital is still in outbreak in two other units, rebab and inpatient surgery.
The rehabilitation unit outbreak was declared Jan. 4.
As of Jan. 19, 12 patients and three staff have been infected, with the last positive test detected on Jan. 16, targeting the earliest possible end date at Jan. 26 if there are no new cases.
The inpatient surgery outbreak was declared Jan. 7 and at this time, seven patients and six staff have been infected. The last positive test was detected on Jan. 15, which targets the outbreak’s end date at Jan. 25 should there be no new cases.
Those who had COVID-19 and are vaccinated have best protection, study finds – National | Globalnews.ca – Globalnews.ca
A new study in two states that compares coronavirus protection from prior infection and vaccination concludes getting the shots is still the safest way to prevent COVID-19.
The study examined infections in New York and California last summer and fall and found people who were both vaccinated and had survived a prior bout of COVID-19 had the most protection.
But unvaccinated people with a past infection were a close second. By fall, when the more contagious delta variant had taken over but boosters weren’t yet widespread, that group had a lower case rate than vaccinated people who had no past infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released the study Wednesday, noted several caveats to the research. And some outside experts were cautious of the findings and wary of how they might be interpreted.
“The bottom line message is that from symptomatic COVID infection you do generate some immunity,” said immunologist E. John Wherry of the University of Pennsylvania. “But it’s still much safer to get your immunity from vaccination than from infection.”
Vaccination has long been urged even after a prior case of COVID-19 because both kinds of protection eventually wane — and there are too many unknowns to rely only on a past infection, especially a long-ago one, added immunologist Ali Ellebedy at Washington University in St. Louis.
“There are so many variables you cannot control that you just cannot use it as a way to say, `Oh, I’m infected then I am protected,”’ Ellebedy said.
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The research does fall in line with a small cluster of studies that found unvaccinated people with a previous infection had lower risks of COVID-19 diagnosis or illness than vaccinated people who were never before infected.
The new study’s findings do make sense, said Christine Petersen, a University of Iowa epidemiologist. She said a vaccine developed against an earlier form of the coronavirus is likely to become less and less effective against newer, mutated versions.
However, experts said, there are a number of possible other factors at play, including whether the vaccine’s effectiveness simply faded over time in many people and to what extent mask wearing and other behaviors played a part in what happened.
Another thing to consider: The “staunchly unvaccinated” aren’t likely to get tested and the study only included lab-confirmed cases, Wherry said.
“It may be that we’re not picking up as many reinfections in the unvaccinated group,” he said.
CDC officials noted other limitations. The study was done before the omicron variant took over and before many Americans received booster doses, which have been shown to dramatically amplify protection by raising levels of virus-fighting antibodies. The analysis also did not include information on the severity of past infections, or address the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.
The study authors concluded vaccination “remains the safest strategy” to prevent infections and “all eligible persons should be up to date with COVID-19 vaccination.”
The researchers looked at infections in California and New York, which together account for about 18 per cent of the U.S. population. They also looked at COVID-19 hospitalizations in California.
Overall, about 70 per cent of the adults in each state were vaccinated; another five per cent were vaccinated and had a previous infection. A little under 20 per cent weren’t vaccinated; and roughly five per cent were unvaccinated but had a past infection.
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The researchers looked at COVID-19 cases from the end of last May until mid-November, and calculated how often new infections happened in each group. As time went on, vaccine-only protection looked less and less impressive.
By early October, compared with unvaccinated people who didn’t have a prior infection, case rates were:
— Six-fold lower in California and 4.5-fold lower in New York in those who were vaccinated but not previously infected.
— 29-fold lower in California and 15-fold lower in New York in those who had been infected but never vaccinated.
— 32.5-fold lower in California and 20-fold lower in New York in those who had been infected and vaccinated.
But the difference in the rates between those last two groups was not statistically significant, the researchers found.
Hospitalization data, only from California, followed a similar pattern.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
Over 1.2 million people died from drug-resistant infections in 2019 – study
More than 1.2 million people died in 2019 from infections caused by bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, higher than HIV/AIDS or malaria, according to a new report published on Thursday.
Global health officials have repeatedly warned about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and other microbes due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages microorganisms to evolve into “superbugs”.
The new Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance report, published in The Lancet, revealed that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was directly responsible for an estimated 1.27 million deaths and associated with about 4.95 million deaths. The study analysed data from 204 countries and territories.
“These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide… Previous estimates had predicted 10 million annual deaths from AMR by 2050, but we now know for certain that we are already far closer to that figure than we thought,” said Chris Murray, co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington.
Last year, the World Health Organization warned that none of the 43 antibiotics in development or recently approved medicines were enough to combat antimicrobial resistance.
Cornelius Clancy, professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said one of the ways to tackle AMR is to look at a new treatment model.
“The traditional antibiotic model that we’ve had for past number of decades since penicillin. I think it is tapped out.”
Most of 2019’s deaths were caused by drug resistance in lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia, followed by bloodstream infections and intra-abdominal infections.
AMR’s impact is now most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, while around one in five deaths is in children aged under five years.
There was limited availability of data for some regions, particularly many low and middle-income countries, which may restrict the accuracy of the study’s estimates.
Clancy said the focus has been on COVID-19 for the past two years, but AMR is a “long-term kind of challenge”.
(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Devika Syamnath)
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