The World Health Organization (WHO) is the only organization that the world is depending on, during this pandemic. With the following statements from WHO, it clears ambiguity to alleviate fears. The recent statement from WHO, however, explained that asymptomatic coronavirus transmission is not common.
Looking at the figures worldwide show, a significant number of people are tested positive for the deadly virus. However, it is assumed that not all of them pass on their infections majorly. However, although rare, it does not rule out the transmission of the virus before the development of symptoms.
Analysis of coronavirus transmission by WHO
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove is the head of emerging diseases at WHO. She also had a Q/A session on COVID-19 in March, posted on YouTube, and available here.
She has commented about the asymptomatic transmission saying that it is based on the evidence received. The countries executed comprehensive contact tracing, to give concrete evidence. She further made a clear distinction of 3 separate categories, while analyzing the coronavirus.
- Infected patients who have not experienced any symptoms (asymptomatic)
- Infected patients testing positive for the virus despite no prior experience of any symptoms. However, they have now begun developing them (pre-symptomatic)
- Infected patients who are experiencing very light or atypical symptoms. Hence, they are unaware that they have the coronavirus.
She explained that few reports differentiate between these categories, unlike others. In addition to the study of other small groups, the conclusions are difficult to come across. However, based on the cumulative evidence, Dr. Van Kerkhove confirmed the “insignificant” risk of asymptomatic transmission.
WHO recently explained the importance of face masks and the percentage of reduction in transmission. The statement suggested the above argument.
In England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has continued to examine a unit of the population regularly. According to the reports, out of all infected coronavirus patients tested positive, 29% reported symptoms. This was during the testing, or prior to the testing with the inclusion of visits.
The contact tracing from several countries is the foundation for the collected evidence. Prof Babak Javid, an infectious diseases consultant at the Unversity of Cambridge explained the transmission. It suggests that asymptomatic transmission exits. However, it is rare. He continued that infection transmission usually happens after the development of symptoms. This could be the initial stage or when they are very mild.
Identifiable amounts of the virus can exist in patients approximately 3 days prior to the development of symptoms. At this stage, transmission can take place, especially during the first signs of first symptoms.
Asymptomatic people are further unaware of them being contagious. However, Prof Javid explained that pre-symptomatic people had to follow a few guidelines. This included tracking, tracing, and self-isolation rules.
Prof Liam Smeeth, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also added to this matter. H explained that this reflects the importance of lockdown measures and how it has reduced the spread significantly.
Asymptomatic people could be capable of transmitting the virus. However, the possibility is extremely rare, suggests by the current evidence. Hence, it holds pre-symptomatic people at the highest risk.
A positive test does not determine the amount of virus in a person’s body. This is called the viral load. Furthermore, the method of contact can highly determine the likeliness of the infection. Hence, contact tracing is important for the determination of the transmission of the virus. Dr. Van Kerkhove pointed out the “injection droplets” that are the biggest threat in transmission. Furthermore, the most significant amount of infection droplets are passed on during coughing and sneezing. This consequently increases the rate of transmission.
COVID-19 And Influenza May Have Twin Pandemics This Year
Many times, just when a doctor congratulates themself on making a tricky diagnosis, disaster happens. Although most doctors maintain meticulous details and effort, even the best sometimes must face facts. And that sad truth is that often at times multiple diseases manifest with similar symptoms. A patient running in with chest pains may suffer from acid reflux (GERD) or a serious heart attack. Similarly, experts now agree that COVID-19 and influenza symptoms can be very difficult to distinguish.
Up until the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic this year, the leading respiratory virus was influenza. Ancient, commonplace, well-understood it was, and thus predictable in its outcomes. In fact, since the great flu pandemic in 1918, that eviscerated most of Europe and America, nothing came close. Experts since then, with new understandings of epidemiology and virology, were able to accurately map the influenza rise and falls over the years.
This year’s expected influenza patterns vary by hemisphere, and experts notice an interesting finding
Influenza, commonly called the “flu”, has a seasonal pattern. In the northern hemisphere, it tends to occur during the winter months. In the US, it generally starts mid-November and peters out by April. Despite its regular and predictable occurrence, the disease still claims thousands of lives every year. Flu cases often result in hospitalizations and disruptions to schools and workplaces.
In the southern hemisphere, nations like Australia experience peaks in the months of June till September. This inverse pattern is because of the reversed weather patterns; influenza generally thrives in colder climates. However, what astonished scientists this year is how the rise of COVID-19 seemingly led to a drop in influenza cases. In South America at the moment, the expected influenza cases appear missing, while COVID-19 cases increase daily.
Epidemiologists caution that influenza peaks and COVID-19 peaks could coincide, to catastrophic outcomes
In the northern hemisphere, where influenza awaits its winter season, COVID-19 already reigns supreme. Many nations, from the US to Italy experience its effects even now. However, so far influenza world wide had been flattened out due to what is suspected to be due to precautions towards COVID-19. The bans on travel, social distancing, mask wearing, disinfectants all contribute to curbing influenza spread too. However, despite this, as restrictions loosen and people tire of obeying WHO guidelines, and winter approaches, so should influenza. When that happens, both diseases may attack together.
What also bears mentioning is the statistical proof that COVID-19 indeed is at least thrice as infectious as influenza. In cases where both diseases coexist in the population, the number of new influenza cases pales in comparison to new COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, experts still can’t be sure what will happen when both epidemics coincide globally. Some patients in St. Joseph’s Hospital, New Jersey, already tested positive for both viruses. Whether both viruses will act together and worsen symptoms, or compete till one wins remains unclear.
It is imperative that both diseases be controlled before their twin pandemic occurs
Experts agree that nothing more than waiting will curb COVID-19. The vaccines, drugs and herd immunity for this disease all need time to work. Until then the best any individual can do is socially distance, wash hands frequently and try to quarantine at home. Likewise, for influenza, all that can be done is wait for vaccinations and build up one’s immune system.
For more news on the upcoming twin pandemics, stay tuned. Also, click here to read about China’s new vaccine that may one day inoculate for COVID-19, influenza and swine flu together.
Russian COVID-19 Antiviral Drug To Be Released Next Week
The USSR often makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. This may just attribute itself to its controversial leader, aggressive foreign policy and remarkably cold climate. After all, the nation is no stranger to strife, turmoil and resilience in its rich history. However, one thing that Russia often gets overlooked for is its advancements in medicine. More specifically, the fact that it has a COVID-19 antiviral drug on the horizon.
The COVID-19 pandemic, as known by the world, started off as a poorly contained outbreak in Wuhan, China. From there, the situation escalated as the coronavirus spread across the globe. Now, entire global economies lay shattered and decrepit. COVID-19 also incurred hundreds of thousands of casualties. Schools, businesses and social settings remain indefinitely on hold in most parts of the world.
Russia aims to release its new antiviral medication by next week
Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. The Russian company behind the new drug, based in the town of Yaroslavl, claimed to be on shelves as early as next week. R-Pharm, the name of the company, announced its completion of Stage III trial status recently. The Stage III clinical trial refers to the comparison of viability compared to the usual standard drug of choice. In this case, the drug, coronavir, will compare and contrast with dexamethasone. Dexamethasone became the standard drug therapy in the UK recently after clearing Phase IV and works to reduce inflammation.
Coronavir, the drug in question, also gets to share the spotlight with its cousin, avifavir. Both coronavir and avifavir come from the same precursor drug, favipiravir. Favipiravir comes from Japan, where it initially gained approval as an anti-influenza drug. This drug can produce coronavir and afivavir depending on requirements.
The drug underwent stringent inspections and trials to gain approval
Coronavir, named after the very virus it combats, seems an exceptionally good drug. It, considered tried and tested with good patient outcomes, works well. While originally approved for uses in hospital settings back in July, it quickly gained support for domestic cases. To investigate any side effects or patient distress, a study was conducted to check. This check means to verify the extensive testing on volunteers that federal regulations require.
Out of 168 COVID-19 patients in the study, most responded well to treatment. Thus, if it passes Stage III trials, then Stage IV, coronavir would check all the boxes. Thus, it very well could be able to hit shelves as soon as next week. Research shows that coronavir is most effective in minor or moderately serious cases of COVID-19.
Russia may yet make a reputation for itself as a medically progressive nation
In recent times, the country truly stepped forward to help battle the ongoing coronavirus situation. The upcoming Sputnik-V vaccine, also expected to release soon, garnered praise and skepticism alike. This vaccine holds the potential to be a true game changer. It is easy enough to administer, has few toxic interactions and will not be prohibitively expensive. However, recent lab findings for Sputnik-V showed that around one in seven of the volunteers developed minor side effects. So while it may not be totally innocuous, the hope will certainly involve ironing out some wrinkles.
Therefore, the advent of coronavir or Sputnik-V simply means that the pandemic may finally die down. There definitely is no need to panic or doubt the system. With any luck, only the most authentic get published.
How Cannabis Weakens The Body’s Immune Response
The secret to a healthy life varies according to who ask. Some swear by exercise, some by diet and some by sleep. However, in recent years the gradual acceptance of cannabis culture also invited in the cannabis enthusiasts. These experienced users now swear by weed; anecdotal cases of potheads living into their 90’s abound. But just how accurate is this? The answer seems complicated, since science now highlights cannabis’s clear effects on the body’s immune system.
The physiological effects of cannabis have not been well examined given its historically maligned societal role. Scientists only recently began observing the mechanism of actions, side effects and impact of log-term cannabis usage. This explains why up until now the exact effects cannabis exerts on our immunity remained unclear. Now, recent research may propose an interesting caveat to physicians prescribing medicinal marijuana.
The body’s immune system consists of intricate and coordinated species of cells
The term ‘immunity’ refers to the body’s success at deterring or eliminating an otherwise harmful pathogen. Pathogens, or disease-causing entities, include various strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi, proteins and protoctista. When these enter the body, via open wound, food or the respiratory system, or to the blood circulation, immune responses occur. Immune responses are the sum processes of recognizing foreign particles, destroying them and creating antibodies for future responses. This means that the leucocytes, eosinophils, B and T Cells all coordinate the response together.
However, in some people the immune system proves too active for their own good. The immune system may produce antibodies against its own tissue, mistaking it for an intruder. This often results in damage to the body’s own tissues. Conditions like this include serious ones like myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis and IBS. Diseases with these kinds of excessive immunity bear the label of ‘autoimmune disorders’. Meanwhile, in diseases like AIDS, diabetes mellitus and leukemia, the immunity is so weakened they are ‘immunocompromised’. Such patients face greater risks of infection than healthy ones.
Cannabis works on the body by interacting with the natural endocannabinoid system
Like every substance entering the body, cannabis has its interactions with the biochemistry. Cannabis, better referred to here as CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the two key constituents, does too. Studies highlight numerous positive health effects of both CBD and THC. The two, being cannabinoids, operate by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain. These receptors, present on the cell membranes, trigger impulses to travel up neurons. This results in the signature ‘high’ of cannabis.
In addition, the neurons send impulses to the endocannabinoid system. This system, although complex, essentially boils down to controlling memory, mood and sleep. Also, it covers the immune system. Stimulating the system results in slowed down impulses and reduced signalling. Therefore, the immune response, from inflammation to pathogen-attacking, weakens.
Physicians must take precautions when prescribing medicinal cannabis, as the immune system may suffer
In healthy individuals with functioning immunity, cannabis definitely shouldn’t be a cause of concern. However, in immunocompromised patients, who already face threats of infection, cannabis may increase risks. Therefore, most agree it should be contraindicated in such cases. However, in cases of autoimmune disorders, or excessive immune responses, cannabis seems perfect. Not only does it reduce pain and inflammation, but it also eases breathing rates and seizures.
For more on cannabis and health, stay tuned. Till then, keep your healthcare providers in the loop about your cannabis intake. It may just yet become a commonplace drug!
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