(Reuters) – Below is an overview of some of the latest scientific research on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find a cure and vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Gut bacteria linked to severity of COVID-19 and immune response
Researchers reported in the journal Gut on Monday that microscopic organisms living in our gut may affect the severity of COVID-19 and the body’s immune response to it, and may also explain persisting symptoms. They found that gut microorganisms in COVID-19 patients were very different from those in uninfected people. “COVID patients lack some of the beneficial bacteria known to regulate our immune system,” said Dr. Sue Ng of China University of Hong Kong. The presence of an abnormal set of gut bacteria or “dysbiosis” persists after the virus has cleared, she said, and could play a role in the long-term symptoms that some patients suffer from. Her team developed an oral formula from live bacteria known as probiotics and a special capsule to protect organisms until they reach the intestines. “Compared to patients receiving standard care, our pilot clinical study showed that more COVID patients who received our microbiome immunity formula achieved complete resolution of symptoms,” Ng said, adding that those who received this formula. markers of inflammation in the blood decreased significantly, which increased. bacteria in their stools, and they have developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus. (bit.ly/3q9u1hb)
The pandemic is affecting the mental health of intensive care workers
Nearly half of the staff working in intensive care units (ICUs) in England suffer from severe anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, and some believe they would be better off dead, researchers said Wednesday in the journal Occupational Medicine. The study was conducted in June and July – before the last spike in hospital admissions began in the UK. Among more than 700 health care workers in nine ICUs, 45% met the threshold of probable clinical significance for at least one of four major mental disorders: severe depression (6%), post-traumatic stress disorder (40%), severe anxiety (11%) or alcohol problems (7%). More than one in eight reported frequent self-harm or suicidal thoughts during the previous two weeks. The poor mental health of intensive care workers caring for critically ill and dying COVID-19 patients not only harms their quality of life, but likely reduces their ability to work effectively, the researchers said. The results show that mental health services must be quickly available to all health care providers. (bit.ly/2LN5SOQ; reut.rs/38GlzAn)
Cooling Vests Help COVID-19 Nurses Carry PPE
Nurses in COVID-19 wards who wear cooling vests under personal protective equipment (PPE) are less likely to experience heat while working, according to a small study. Seventeen nurses wore a lightweight cooling vest under their PPE on one day and only another day. On both days, participants swallowed an electronic capsule that provides a continuous reading of core body temperature. The vests resulted in a slight improvement in body temperature but a much larger reduction in the sensation of overheating, the researchers reported in the journal Temperature. Only 18% of nurses reported thermal discomfort and 35% reported a slight heat sensation at the end of the day with the vest. This is compared to 81% and 94% respectively on a day without a vest. “PPE is known to cause heat stress, which increases fatigue and sensory frustration and is known to interfere with effective decision-making,” said study co-author Tiis Eisvogels of Radbaud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Made by Dutch company Inuteq, CoolOver vests are easy to disinfect and reactivate in the refrigerator, he said, and can extend work tolerance times and improve the recovery of doctors involved in treating COVID-19. (bit.ly/2K9sXe5)
Diabetes increases risks of COVID-19 for black patients
New data shows that black patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) infected with the novel coronavirus face a particularly high risk of a life-threatening complication of diabetes known as ketoacidosis. T1DM usually develops in children or young adults and requires daily insulin to survive. Researchers studied 180 patients from across the United States with T1D and COVID-19, including 31% of blacks and 26% of Hispanics. Black patients are almost four times more likely to develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) than whites, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Hispanics had a slightly higher risk than white patients. Blacks and Hispanics were significantly less likely to use new diabetic technologies, such as continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pumps, and had significantly poorer blood sugar control compared to white patients. This suggests that the higher risk was likely due to structural and systemic inequalities, Boston-based co-author of the nonprofit T1D Exchange Dr. Osagi Ebekosien told Reuters. The researchers said that, in particular, during a pandemic, healthcare providers need to screen T1DM patients for socioeconomic factors that increase their risk of DKA, such as food insecurity, insulin availability, and access to diabetes supplies. (bit.ly/3hWJZs8)
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Reporting by Nancy Lapid and Megan Brooks; Edited by Bill Burkroth