In a retrospective study of patients tested for COVID-19, researchers at the University of Chicago (UChicago) Medicine found an association between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of becoming infected with the coronavirus.
The researchers looked at 489 patients at UChicago Medicine whose vitamin D level had been measured within a year before being tested for COVID-19, reports Xinhua.
Patients who had vitamin D deficiency, defined as less than 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood, that was not treated were almost twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to patients who had sufficient levels of the vitamin.
"Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections," said David Meltzer, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. "Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection."
Half of Americans are thought to be deficient in vitamin D, with much higher rates seen in African Americans, Hispanics and individuals living in areas like Chicago where it is difficult to get enough sun exposure in winter.
"Understanding whether treating vitamin D deficiency changes COVID-19 risk could be of great importance locally, nationally and globally," said Meltzer. "Vitamin D is inexpensive, generally very safe to take, and can be widely scaled."
The researchers are planning further clinical trials. They emphasize the importance of experimental studies to determine whether vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk, and potentially severity, of COVID-19, as well as the need for studies of what strategies for vitamin D supplementation may be most appropriate in specific populations.
The study was posted on UChicago's website on Tuesday.
The activity of viral infection and replication will still persist in the gut of COVID-19 patients after recovery, even if they did not have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, a new study claims.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong made the results of the study public on Monday, saying that researchers from the university's Faculty of Medicine investigated the stool samples of 15 coronavirus patients, aged between 20 and 65, in Hong Kong between February and April.
It showed that there was active gut viral infection in seven patients even in the absence of GI symptoms, reports Xinhua.
Three patients continued to display active viral infection up to six days after clearance of the virus from their respiratory samples.
Researchers found that gut microbiota of patients with high SARS-CoV-2 infectivity were characterised by enrichment of pathogens and loss of "good" bacteria that are capable of producing short-chain fatty acid.
"Active and prolonged viral activity in the gut of COVID-19 patients, even in the absence of GI manifestations and after recovery, highlights the importance of long-term coronavirus and health surveillance and the threat of potential faecal-oral viral transmissions," said Siew Chien Ng, associate director of the Center for Gut Microbiota Research at the university.
Therapeutics approaches including limiting gut viral activity and modulating gut microbiome composition and functionality should be explored, she added.
The study result was published in the international medical journal GUT.
Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 death toll is approaching 900,000. The latest tally from Johns Hopkins University shows the death count at 891,240 on Tuesday.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases was 27,254,716.
More than 18.24 million people have recovered from the virus infection, according to the latest tally from JHU.
Coronavirus mutation rate in Bangladesh is faster than the global average and virus is changing rapidly, according to a study by Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR).
It found the coronavirus mutation rate in the world at 7.23 percent, while the rate in Bangladesh is 12.6 percent.
This information was given by a research team of the Genomic Research Laboratory of BCSIR. The observation was made at a press conference on Sunday morning.
The study result was based on data of 263 cases of genome sequencing. The samples were collected between May 7 and July 31.
After genome sequencing of the samples, researchers published them in the international database Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).
Analysing the data, researchers found that among the proteins of the coronavirus, there is a spike in protein through which the virus attacks the carrier.
They noticed that glycine was converted to aspartic acid at the 614th position in the spike protein. The 'G614' variant has dominated in 100 percent of the cases.
The dominance of the G614 variant is largely responsible for virus transmission in the country, according to the study.
Analysis of 263 SARS-CoV-2 genomes revealed that mutations occur at a total of 737 points, including 356 non-synonymous amino acid substitutions.
In a study of the genes of these 263 viruses, scientists found that the coronavirus of the country underwent mutations at 736 points in the genomic stage.
The rate of mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 virus obtained so far is 24.64 nucleotides per year.
Of the 103 nucleotide mutations in the spike protein gene, 53 non-synonymous amino acid substitutions occur, 5 of which are unique, not found anywhere else in the world.
Repetition of four mutations can be observed in 100 percent of the collected samples.
Read Also: Global Covid-19 caseload exceeds 27mn: JHU
The results of this study have already been published in print form, and a number of research papers will soon be published in international journals.
This research report has been sent to about 50 Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers around the world, including Sinovac Research and Development Co Ltd, China, Moderna, USA, The University of Oxford, UK which will help the vaccine manufacturers to produce vaccines suitable for the infected Covid-19 in Bangladesh and BCSIR will be proud to be its partner.
Coronavirus Situation in Bangladesh
The number of global Covid-19 cases surpassed 27 million as of Monday morning, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.
Besides, the death counts have reached 882,053.
With the inclusion of 1,592 new Covid-19 patients, the total number of infections in the country rose to 325,157 against 16,29,312 tests until Sunday.
Since March 18, 4,479 have died in the country. The fatality rate in Bangladesh has increased to 1.38 percent.
Recovery rate in Bangladesh from the disease saw an exponential growth of 68.05 percent on Sunday as 3,423 patients have recovered in a day taking the total number of recovery to 221,275.
Doctors at a hospital in Spain observed that even a short spell at the beach seems to improve a coronavirus patients' well-being.
The medical team now wants to take the anecdotal evidence further, and see whether such outdoor trips can help in the mid- and long-term recovery of COVID-19 patients, reports AP.
After nearly two months of being sedated and connected to IV lines in a hospital's intensive care unit, one Francisco Espana took a moment to fill his ailing lungs with fresh air at a Barcelona beachfront.
Lying on a hospital bed at the beach promenade and surrounded by a doctor and three nurses who constantly monitored his vital signs, Espana briefly closed his eyes and absorbed as much sunshine as possible.
"It's one of the best days I remember," he said.
A medical team at the Hospital del Mar — the Hospital of the Seas — is seeing if short trips to the beach just across the street can help COVID-19 patients after long and sometimes traumatic ICU stays.
Read Also: Global Covid-19 cases tops 26 mn: JHU
Children and teenagers are less likely than adults to develop severe Covid-19 symptoms and die from the disease, according to the world's largest study of hospital patients with Covid-19, reports Science Daily.
Obesity, black ethnicity and being under one month old are factors that increased the risk of a child being admitted into intensive care with the condition, the report said.
The findings also identify new symptoms of a severe inflammation syndrome that significantly increases the risk of children with Covid-19 needing intensive care.
Researchers are calling for the WHO's definition of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) to be updated to help doctors identify more children with the condition and improve their treatment.
The team led by researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool, Imperial College London and the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, recruited 651 children and young people aged 19 years or less who had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19.
The study is led by ISARIC4C -- a global group of clinicians working to prevent death from respiratory disease -- and involved 138 hospitals across England, Wales and Scotland. The ISARIC4C Covid-19 study includes two thirds of all people admitted to hospital with the disease.
The findings suggest that it is rare for young people to end up in hospital with Covid-19. They make up less than one per cent of participants in the ISARIC study.
The typical age of children hospitalised was five-years-old. Some 42 per cent of patients had at least one other condition, the most common included neurological conditions and asthma.
The number of children and young people who died from Covid-19 was relatively low -- six in total -- when compared with adult deaths.
Three children who died were newborn babies born with other severe health problems. The other three children were aged 15 to 18 years old and also had profound health issues.
Some 18 per cent of hospitalised children and young people were admitted to intensive care. Experts say children most at risk of needing intensive care were those under one month old and those aged 10 to 14 years old. Similar to adults, obesity and Black ethnicity were also found to be risk factors.
The study also identified 52 patients who had MIS-C an inflammatory syndrome. The researchers found that these children were five times more likely to be admitted to intensive care.
The symptoms usually seen in those with MIS-C include conjunctivitis, a rash or gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
The study found new Covid-19 symptoms in children with MIS-C. These include headaches, tiredness, muscle aches and a sore throat.
The study also found that the number of platelets -- a component of the blood involved in clotting -- was much lower in the blood of children with MIS-C than in those without the condition.
The combination of symptoms and low platelets may be important in identifying children with MIS-C who may become more unwell, experts say.
This research was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and by the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as part of the UK Government's Covid-19 rapid research response.
Dr Olivia Swann, lead author and Clinical Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Researchers often want to call attention to large numbers of patients in their studies, however, we want to highlight that children made up only a fraction of a percent of all Covid-19 admissions across the UK in our study and that severe disease was rare."
Professor Calum Semple, Professor in Child Health and Outbreak Medicine and Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician at the University of Liverpool, said: "The diligent work of our colleagues working in Child Health and the NIHR Clinical Research Network across the UK has led to this report which is the largest and most detailed description of covid-19 and MIS-C in children and young people. We have provided new understanding about MIS-C which will help manage this rare but serious condition, but parents can now be reassured that severe covid-19 is very rare in children."
Dr Louisa Pollock, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Disease at the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, said: "Parents should be reassured by this study which confirms very few children were seriously affected by Covid-19. As children return to school, and over the winter months, it is important we continue to monitor Covid-19 in children."
Professor Fiona Watt, Medical Research Council Chief Executive, said: "This is a significant study involving 138 hospitals across England, Wales and Scotland showing that children and teenagers are less likely than adults to develop severe COVID-19 or die from the disease. Indeed, the findings suggest it is rare for young people to end up in hospital with COVID-19.
"However, while the overall the risk for young people is lower, the added risks of obesity and ethnicity are shared with adults. We need to understand this, and also why a very small number of children are suffering from an inflammatory syndrome. Obviously the goal is to ensure that everyone who develops COVID-19 has the most appropriate treatment."
The research findings are published in the BMJ.