A new study says US communities that made using face masks in public compulsory saw a decline in the spread of coronavirus.
After five days of mask mandates, the daily coronavirus growth rate slowed by just under 1 percent, while after 21 days, it slowed by about 2 percent, according to the study, reports Xinhua.
Researchers from the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa College of Public Health reported the study result in the journal Health Affairs.
Between April 8 and May 15, governors of 15 US states and the mayor of Washington, DC signed orders to place mask mandates in public. The researchers studied changes in the daily county-level COVID-19 growth rates between March 31 and May 22.
They also projected the number of averted COVID-19 cases with the mandates for face mask use in public by comparing actual cumulative daily cases with daily cases predicted by a model if none of the states had enacted the public face cover mandate at the time they did.
The model estimates suggested that 230,000-450,000 cases may have been averted by May 22 due to these mandates.
The US is currently the worst coronavirus affected country in the world with 4,717,568 confirmed cases and 155,469 deaths.
Coronavirus cases were first reported in China in December last year. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic in March.
The race for developing a vaccine is on but it is unclear when it will be available. Health experts suggest maintaining personal hygiene, washing hands regularly with soap and running water or alcohol based substance, wearing masks in public and maintaining physical distance from others as measures to curb the virus’ spread.
Aiming to lower the incidence of liver cancer among patients with hepatitis B, China has launched a research project on Tuesday, marking the World Hepatitis Day.
It was sponsored by the Chinese Foundation for Hepatitis Prevention and Control, reports Xinhua
It will observe and study the five-year incidence of liver cancer among 20,000 chronic hepatitis B patients in 99 hospitals across the country.
It aims to optimise the clinical treatment path of hepatitis B antiviral therapy and explore ways of reducing the incidence of liver cancer linked to hepatitis B.
Zhang Wenhong, a leading expert working on the project, said that they hope long-term treatment and observation can answer questions that traditional clinical trials cannot, like what's the difference in liver cancer incidence between different therapies.
According to data from 2019, primary liver cancer is the fourth most common malignant tumor and the second leading cause of death among all kinds of tumors in China.
It is estimated that 85 percent of China's liver cancer patients have been infected with the hepatitis B virus.
Scientists found an experimental blood test highly accurate at distinguishing people with Alzheimer’s disease from those without it in several studies.
It is boosting hopes that there soon may be a simple way to help diagnose this most common form of dementia.
Developing such a test has been a long-sought goal, and scientists warn that the new approach still needs more validation and is not yet ready for wide use. But Tuesday’s results suggest they’re on the right track.
The testing identified people with Alzheimer’s vs. no dementia or other types of it with accuracy ranging from 89% to 98%.
“That’s pretty good. We’ve never seen that” much precision in previous efforts, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer.
Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, agreed.
“The data looks very encouraging,” he said. The new testing “appears to be even more sensitive and more reliable” than earlier methods, but it needs to be tried in larger, more diverse populations, he said.
The institute had no role in these studies but financed earlier, basic research toward blood test development.
Results were discussed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference taking place online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some results also were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
More than 5 million people in the United States and many more worldwide have Alzheimer’s. Current drugs only temporarily ease symptoms and do not slow mental decline.
The disease is usually diagnosed through tests of memory and thinking skills, but that’s very imprecise and usually involves a referral to a neurologist. More reliable methods such as spinal fluid tests and brain scans are invasive or expensive, so a simple blood test that could be done in a family doctor's office would be a big advance.
Last year, scientists reported encouraging results from experimental blood tests that measure abnormal versions of amyloid, one of two proteins that build up and damage Alzheimer’s patients’ brains. The new work focuses on the other protein — tau — and finds that one form of it called p-tau217 is a more reliable indicator. Several companies and universities have developed experimental p-tau217 tests.
Dr. Oskar Hansson of Lund University in Sweden led a study of Eli Lilly’s test on more than 1,400 people already enrolled in dementia studies in Sweden, Arizona and Colombia. They included people with no impairment, mild impairment, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, found it helped distinguish people with Alzheimer’s from those with another neurological disease — frontotemporal lobar degeneration — with 96% accuracy in a study of 617 people.
Dr. Suzanne Schindler of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, also found p-tau217 better than some other indicators for revealing which patients had plaques in the brain — the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
“When patients come to me with changes in their memory and thinking, one of the major questions is, what’s the cause? Is it Alzheimer’s disease or is it something else?” she said. If tau testing bears out, “it would help us diagnose people earlier and more accurately.”
Schindler has already launched a larger study in a diverse population in St. Louis. Researchers have done the same in Sweden.
If benefits are confirmed, Masliah, Carrillo and others say they hope a commercial test would be ready for wide use in about two years.
Scientists don’t know for sure yet whether there is any chance of getting infected with COVID-19 twice.
But they believe it is unlikely.
Health experts think people who had COVID-19 will have some immunity against a repeat infection, reports AP.
But they don’t know how much protection or how long it would last.
There have been reports of people testing positive for the virus weeks after they were believed to have recovered, leading some to think they may have been reinfected
More likely, experts say people were suffering from the same illness or the tests detected remnants of the original infection.
There’s also the chance tests could have been false positives.
Scientists say there has been no documented instance of a patient spreading the virus to others after retesting positive.
With similar viruses, studies have shown that people could fall sick again three months to a year after their first infections.
It’s still too early to know whether that’s also possible with the coronavirus.
“It’s very much emerging science,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the global public health program at Boston College.
A small US study published last week also found the antibodies that fight the coronavirus may only last a few months in people with mild illness, suggesting people could become susceptible again.
But antibodies aren’t the only defense against a virus, and the other parts of the immune system could also help provide protection.
Settling the question of whether reinfection is possible is important. If it can occur, that could undermine the idea of “immunity passports” for returning back to workplaces.
And it would not bode well for hopes of getting a long-lasting vaccine.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to tackle what is being dubbed a ‘obesity time bomb’ that can increase the risk of coronavirus disease and related deaths, reports Xinhua.
The announcement was made on Monday banning adverts for junk food by 9pm, the cancellation of "buy one get one free" deals on such foods and a decision to put calories on menus.
In addition to the ban, the government will arrange a consultation about displaying calories on alcohol.
Boris Johnson, who has lost weight since he was in COVID-19 intensive care, wants to tackle obesity as studies show that it can increase the risk of coronavirus disease and related deaths.
The British are far fatter than any other nation in Europe except the Maltese, he said last month.
His government described "tackling the obesity time bomb" as a priority.
"Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier," Johnson said in a statement.
"If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus -- as well as taking pressure off the NHS (National Health Service)," he added.