(Reuters) – The following is an overview of some of the latest scientific studies on the new coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, a disease caused by the virus.
Certain blood groups are less likely to get COVID-19
Extensive research adds evidence that people with blood type O or Rh negative may be at a slightly lower risk of a new coronavirus. Among 225,556 Canadians tested for the virus, the risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19 was 12% lower, and the risk of severe COVID-19 or death 13% lower in people with blood type O compared to those with A, AB, or B, the researchers reported Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. People in any blood group who were Rh-negative were also somewhat protected, especially if they had O-negative blood. People in those blood types may have developed antibodies that can recognize some aspect of the new virus, co-author Dr. Joel Ray of St. John’s Hospital told Reuters. Michael in Toronto. “The following research will specifically address such antibodies and whether they explain the protective effect,” Ray said. Whether and how this information may affect the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 is still unclear. (bit.ly/2JhQvws)
Vitamin D does not help in severe cases of COVID-19
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with a higher risk of severe COVID-19, but high levels of vitamin D do not solve the problem. Increasing vitamin D levels in critically ill patients did not shorten hospital stays or reduce the chances of moving to intensive care, the need for mechanical ventilation, or dying, doctors in Brazil found. They randomized 240 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 or one high dose of vitamin D3 or placebo. Only 6.7% of patients in the vitamin D group had “insufficient” nutrient levels, compared with 51.5% of patients in the placebo group, but there was no difference in outcomes, according to a paper published on medRxiv prior to the review. . The same was true when the researchers focused on 116 patients with vitamin D deficiency before treatment. The authors say their first randomized trial of its kind showed that vitamin D supplementation was not effective for improving hospital stay or any other clinical outcome among hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 ”. (bit.ly/3mfqOeH)
COVID-19 “cytokine storm” triggers identified
A form of inflammatory cell death called panoptosis triggers a storm of cytokines or inflammatory proteins that cause critical illness in COVID-19, the researchers say. During panoptosis, “cells shed their contents, instead of neatly packing them,” as happens during routine cell death, said Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti of St. John’s Children’s Research Hospital. Jude for Reuters. Neighboring cells view the debris, including cytokines, as a sign of danger, and respond by secreting more cytokines, allowing a cytokine storm to build up, Kanneganti said. Her team determined synergies between two cytokines, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma, as the cause of panoptosis in COVID-19. Mice given TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma developed symptoms and organ damage from COVID-19 and died quickly, Kanneganti said. Treatment with antibodies that neutralize these two cytokines protected mice from death, not only from COVID-19, but also from other life-threatening diseases involving cytokine storms, such as sepsis, her team at Cell reported. Tests are needed to test these treatments on humans, Kanneganti said. (bit.ly/375VBEa)
COVID-19 survivors benefit from home health care
COVID-19 survivors benefit from home health care after discharge from the hospital, new data show. Researchers from the Department of Nursing in New York, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Villanova studied 1,409 patients receiving home health care, nearly half of whom were under 65 years of age. When they were fired, 80% were still out of breath, most reported anxiety or confusion, and more than 80% needed help walking, dressing, and bathing. After an average of 32 days of home health care, 94% no longer needed the service. The vast majority have not fully recovered, but most of the symptoms have significantly improved, as has the patient’s ability to perform daily activities. Only 10% needed to be rehospitalized, researchers reported Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “Only 11% of COVID-19 survivors nationwide were discharged from hospitals with qualified home health services,” said co-author Margaret McDonald of the New York Nurses Visit Service. This study “suggests that HHC is significantly underutilized in the recovery of hospitalized patients with COVID-19”. (bit.ly/39kY7Jz)
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Reporting Nancy Lapid; Editing Tiffany Wu