Fresh studies by British researchers give more information about what medicines do or don’t work in COVID-19 treatment.
They on Friday published their research on the only drug shown to improve survival -- a cheap steroid called dexamethasone.
Two other studies found that malaria drug hydroxychloroquine does not help people with only mild symptoms.
For months before studies like these, learning what helps or harms has been undermined by “desperation science” as doctors and patients tried therapies on their own or through a host of studies not strong enough to give clear answers.
“For the field to move forward and for patients’ outcomes to improve, there will need to be fewer small or inconclusive studies” and more like the British one, Drs. Anthony Fauci and H. Clifford Lane of the National Institutes of Health wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It’s now time to do more studies comparing treatments and testing combinations, said Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Here are highlights of recent treatment developments:
The British study, led by the University of Oxford, tested a type of steroid widely used to tamp down inflammation, which can become severe and prove fatal in later stages of COVID-19.
About 2,104 patients given the drug were compared to 4,321 patients getting usual care.
It reduced deaths by 36% for patients sick enough to need breathing machines: 29% on the drug died versus 41% given usual care. It curbed the risk of death by 18% for patients needing just supplemental oxygen: 23% on the drug died versus 26% of the others.
However, it seemed harmful at earlier stages or milder cases of illness: 18% of those on the drug died versus 14% of those given usual care.
The clarity of who does and does not benefit “probably will result in many lives saved,” Fauci and Lane wrote.
The same Oxford study also tested hydroxychloroquine in a rigorous manner and researchers previously said it did not help hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
After 28 days, about 25.7% on hydroxychloroquine had died versus 23.5% given usual care -- a difference so small it could have occurred by chance
Now, details published on a research site for scientists show that the drug may have done harm. Patients given hydroxychloroquine were less likely to leave the hospital alive within 28 days -- 60% on the drug versus 63% given usual care. Those not needing breathing machines when they started treatment also were more likely to end up on one or to die.
Two other experiments found that early treatment with the drug did not help outpatients with mild COVID-19.
A study of 293 people from Spain published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found no significant differences in reducing the amount of virus patients had, the risk of worsening and needing hospitalization, or the time until recovery.
A similar study by University of Minnesota doctors in Annals of Internal Medicine of 423 mildly ill COVID-19 patients found that hydroxychloroquine did not substantially reduce symptom severity and brought more side effects.
“It is time to move on” from treating patients with this drug, Dr. Neil Schluger from New York Medical College wrote in a commentary in the journal.
The only other therapy that’s been shown to help COVID-19 patients is remdesivir, an antiviral that shortens hospitalization by about four days on average.
“The role of remdesivir in severe COVID is now what we need to figure out,” Memorial Sloan Kettering's Bach wrote in an email, saying the drug needs to be tested in combination with dexamethasone now.
Details of the government-led remdesivir study have not yet been published, but researchers are eager to see how many patients received other drugs such as steroids and hydroxychloroquine.
Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, which is given as an IV now, has started testing an inhaled version that would allow it to be tried in less ill COVID-19 patients to try to keep them from getting sick enough to need hospitalization. Gilead also has started testing remdesivir in a small group of children.
Supplies are very limited, and the U.S. government is allocating doses to hospitals through September.
Prominent American jeweler Maria Tash says that piercings have changed much in recent years and predicts that multiple ear piercings is going to be everywhere.
Everywhere from catwalks to billboards and adorning even the most conservative faces, piercings are now becoming the smallest must-have fashion accessory.
Tash became a jewellery tycoon, with concessions worldwide and has a large Instagram following. Her first eponymous store was opened in New York's East Village in 1993.
The intricate, fine jewellery can be seen punctuating the ears of celebrities from Beyoncé to Margot Robbie, reports Independent.co.uk.
Differing from most mainstream piercing salons, customers can wear most of the pieces immediately, without having to spend months waiting for holes to heal around sterile surgical steel bars.
Tash said “there are no rules anymore in piercing.”
“All the high fashion brands now allow the models to wear their own earrings and piercings. Ear piercing has become quite liberated,” she added.
Getting into piercing in late teens, Tash would pierce the ears of all her friends in their bedrooms. She puts the recent boom in multiple ear piercings down to the wider range of jewellery now available.
“People just don’t get something because they like it. They think that’s really beautiful, where can I put that?'
However, the quality of the jewellery matters in piercing now, said Tash.
On the other hand, people sometimes consider metal colour and how it complements their skin tone, there’s the diameter of rings, fitting things in a way that’s close but not too tight is important, said Tash.
Tash believes one style in particular will become increasingly popular which is ‘high lobe,’ a stud placed directly above one’s first or second lobe piercing, or even high-up between the two.
The detrimental effects of coronavirus is affecting the livelihood, career, education, and overall lifestyle of numerous people worldwide. Failing to cope up with the pandemic consequences, many people are experiencing stress and anxiety which may drive them into chronic depression. You may know that the immune system of a human body gets weaken due to fear, stress, anxiety, and depression. To get rid of stress and alleviate health status, you can opt for creative ways like rooftop gardening. Read this article to know how rooftop gardening can help in stress release and health improvement.
The human body is designed with a complex natural alarming system. When you come across any perceived threat like facing a violent dog or falling down from the staircase, your brain instigates the release of hormones including Adrenaline and Cortisol.
The release of Adrenaline hormone in the human body tends to fasten the heart rate, increase blood pressure, and boost up energy supplies. And, the primary stress hormone Cortisol increases blood sugars (glucose), activates the brain in using glucose, and promotes repairing tissues. This hormone alters the immune system to suppress the digestive system while communicating with the brain to control the fear.
Usually, the stress-response system of the human body is self-limiting. Once the threat has passed, the stress-hormone levels go down. Then your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal and different organs including the digestive system resume their usual activities. What if, you are undergoing stress constantly?
When you regularly feel anxiety, the stress-response system of your body stays alert for the long-term. It may lead to excess release of cortisol and other stress hormones that can cause diverse health problems including anxiety, chronic Sleeplessness (Insomnia), digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, depression, memory loss, concentration problems, obesity, etc.
Rooftop gardening will not cost you much money. The only thing you need to invest is your time, focus, and creativity. Let’s see what gardening can do to your mind and body.
When you get engaged in any creative activity, your level of cortisol (stress hormone) reduces within 45 minutes. However, you do not need to be a pro in any specific skill. All you need to do is to hold the willpower for waking up the hidden artist inside you.
Rooftop gardening can be a great way to dig up your creativity. Gardening can give you a purpose for living when you are lonely and suffering from depression. If you have a small place on your roof or balcony you can plant some seeds and do some research about gardening. You can take suggestions from diverse online groups.
When you can finally observe the growth of healthy plants it will give you the heavenly pleasure of your own creation which belongs to you. If you can spend some hours in the garden every day, you can gain mental peace and avoid stress which will strengthen your immunity in the long term.
Mindfulness is a scientifically proven way to combat stress and anxiety. When you focus on a special activity like gardening with all your mind and heart, it keeps you away from anxiety for at least some hours. When you spend time in your garden, you allow yourself come to close to nature. It is said that nature is the best healer.
Getting close to nature, you can enjoy priceless moments, like feeling sun-shine over your face, getting enthralled by the beauty and smell of blooming flowers, listening to the chirping of birds, enjoying your own creativity of growing vegetables or flowers, etc. These simple but peaceful moments can not only give you immense happiness but also prevent your brain from getting overwhelmed by tensions of daily life. Thus, you can fight anxiety and improve your mental health.
During the ongoing pandemic situation, the health-experts are advising people to stay at home. However, if you get deprived of enough sunlight for a long time, your body misses the natural source of Vitamin D. You may know that unlike other vitamins, Vitamin D is created through a chemical reaction in the human body when the sun rays bounce off the skin.
Vitamin D promotes calcium storage in the human body, which strengthens the bones and teeth, boosts up the immune system, controls the flow of insulin throughout the bloodstream, and minimizes the risk of diverse diseases like diabetes, heart problems, lungs issues, and even cancer. What is more? Vitamin D can make you feel-good from internally, which assists in releasing stress, fear, anxiety, as well as depression.
When you do rooftop gardening or sit on a bench under the open sky for sometimes, your body gets exposure to natural sunlight and generates Vitamin D. Most importantly, while you enjoy free sunshine in your rooftop garden, you do not need to get worried about maintaining social-distancing and getting contracted by COVID disease.
While the pandemic consequences have confined many people at home, regular physical activities have been minimized which have enhanced the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc.
The act of gardening would require you some amount of physical movements that can strengthen different parts of your body. For instance, when you get down on hands or knees while digging into the soil, your joints become supple, back gets stronger, and fingers get nimbler.
These physical activities can reduce the risk of arthritis and associated diseases in later life. Furthermore, while you are working in a garden, your heart rate increases. Thus, gardening labor can compensate for the health-benefit of jogging or pedaling bikes. What is more? Moderate physical activities like gardening can help the senior citizens in improving their body-balance, which may prevent them from accidental falling down.
The biggest benefit of growing vegetables in your own garden is that you know the source of your food. The assurance that no potentially harmful preservatives have been applied to your food, would give you immense mental satisfaction. However, you can buy expensive organic vegetables from the supermarket but it may cost you excess grocery-budget at the month-end. Just think! Why pay somebody else to grow your food, when you could do it yourself enjoying bonus health benefits?
While you spend time outdoors, you are somewhat exposed to diverse diseases and health problems. However, with a little caution, you can avoid such risks. Though you may have been learned many drawbacks of getting hands dirty, it also has some underrated benefits. For instance, when you touch soils, it gets under your fingernails, and you expose yourself to bacteria. Scientists have found that certain types of bacteria called ‘commensal bacteria’ aid in digestion and boost up the immunity system of the human body.
Health experts say contact tracing is key to containing the virus and allowing places to reopen more safely.
The goal of contact tracing is to alert people who may have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, and prevent them from spreading it to others. But the process isn't easy.
After a person tests positive for the virus, a contact tracer would get in touch with the person and attempt to determine where they have been and who they were around.
The focus is on close contacts, or people who were within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 10 minutes or so. Those people would then be asked to self-isolate, monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested if needed.
For those showing symptoms, the tracing process would start all over again.
Contact tracing is done in a variety of ways around the world. But a common issue is that determining who a person has been around can get harder as gatherings with friends and family resume, and as bars, restaurants and other places start reopening.
Health officials could also become overwhelmed with cases. In the U.S. for example, local health departments may rely on automated texts to alert people who may have been exposed to an infected person. Health officials prefer to call people if possible because it can help build trust. But some people never return calls or texts.
There’s also pressure to act quickly. Ideally, most of a person’s contacts would be alerted within a day.
Covid-19 patients, who have recovered, could lose their immunity to the disease within months and that the virus could reinfect people year after year, like common colds, scientists say.
The study examined more than 90 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust and found levels of antibodies that can destroy the virus peaked about three weeks after the onset of symptoms then swiftly declined, reports The Guardian.
Besides, 60 percent of people marshalled a “potent” antibody response at the height of their battle with the virus, said the study after conducting their blood test. Only 17 percent retained the same potency three months later.
Antibody levels fell as much as 23-fold over the period. In some cases, they became undetectable, the study showed.
Dr Katie Doores, lead authoron the study at King’s College London, said that people are producing a reasonable antibody response to the virus, but it’s waning over a short period of time and "depending on how high your peak is, that determines how long the antibodies are staying around".
Researchers say the study has implications for the development of a vaccine, and for the pursuit of “herd immunity” in the community over time.
The immune system has multiple ways to fight the coronavirus but if antibodies are the main line of defence, the findings suggested people could become reinfected in seasonal waves and that vaccines may not protect them for long.
“Infection tends to give you the best-case scenario for an antibody response, so if your infection is giving you antibody levels that wane in two to three months, the vaccine will potentially do the same thing,” said Doores. “People may need boosting and one shot might not be sufficient."
Early results from the University of Oxford have shown that the coronavirus vaccine it is developing produces lower levels of antibodies in macaques than are seen in humans infected with the virus. While the vaccine appeared to protect the animals from serious infection, they still became infected and may have been able to pass on the virus.
Prof Robin Shattock of Imperial College London, said there was no certainty any of the vaccines in development would work, and noted that it is still unclear what kind of immune response is needed to prevent infection.
The King’s College study is the first to have monitored antibody levels in patients and hospital workers for three months after symptoms emerged. The scientists drew on test results from 65 patients and six healthcare workers who tested positive for the virus, and a further 31 staff who volunteered to have regular antibody tests between March and June.
The study, which has been submitted to a journal but has yet to be peer-reviewed, found that antibody levels rose higher and lasted longer in patients who were severe cases. This may be because the patients have more virus and churn out more antibodies to fight the infection.
There are four other types of coronavirus in widespread circulation, which cause the common cold. “One thing we know about these coronaviruses is that people can get reinfected fairly often,” said Prof Stuart Neil, a co-author on the study. “What that must mean is that the protective immunity people generate doesn’t last very long. It looks like Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, might be falling into that pattern as well.”
Prof Jonathan Heeney, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, said the study confirmed a growing body of evidence that immunity to Covid-19 is short-lived. “Most importantly, it puts another nail in the coffin of the dangerous concept of herd immunity,” he said.
Prof Arne Akbar, an immunologist at UCL, said antibodies are only part of the story. There is growing evidence, he said, that T cells produced to fight common colds can protect people as well. Those patients who fight the virus with T cells may not need to churn out high levels of antibodies, he added.