Covid Curated Issue 1

Let The NYT Daily Catch You Up.

In the July 6th episode of The Daily, you get one month’s worth of Donald Neil’s reporting on COVID-19. Neil is a veteran science and epidemiology journalist. He filters through conflicting views of the progression of the virus. You learn that COVID-19 is:

  1. A vascular, not a respiratory disease that attacks several organs of the body including the lungs, kidneys, gut, and brain, making it much more complicated to manage and treat than the seasonal flu.
  2. The original COVID-19 strain that originated in Wuhan, China, mutated to what we refer to as, the European strain, in mid-February. This strain made the virus more transmissible, but not necessarily more virulent.
  3. The virus is airborne. Outdoor spaces are much safer compared to being indoors. However, six feet of space should be maintained outside.
  4. Young children are less likely to transmit the virus compared to their older peers and adult counterparts. School may be a possibility for elementary-aged school children this Fall.

Flu-COVID ‘Collision’ Expected this Fall, Health Experts Warn

Getting your flu vaccine this Fall will play a critical role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. As we brace for the second wave of COVID-19, we need to prepare for the dangerous collision of two deadly viruses, influenza and COVID-19. Last year, only 45% of adults were vaccinated against influenza. This number needs to exponentially increase to avert overcrowding of hospitalizations, ICUs, and mortality from both the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

COVID-19: The Number of Antibodies Neutralizing the Virus Decreases after 6 Weeks

A recent study has shown that approximately 6 in 10 people generate neutralizing antibodies to COVID-19 two weeks after symptom onset, while the remaining 4 in 10 do not even mount an antibody response. This antibody response mounted by 6 out of 10 individuals decreases after about 6 weeks. These findings suggest that when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, we will likely have to get booster shots for long-term protection of the population.

How Scientists Know COVID-19 is Way Deadlier than the Flu

Through using a more accurate and comprehensive measure, called the case fatality rate, researchers estimate that the COVID-19 fatality rate is 1.46%, twice as high as predicted earlier. This number is much higher than the misinformed fatality rate reported on social media. Columbia University researchers found that for 1 to 10 people who die for every 100,000 infected with seasonal influenza, there are 500 to 1,000 fatal cases for every 100,000 infected with COVID-19. These findings support that Coronavirus is likely to be 50 to100 times deadlier than the seasonal flu.

Recently, there is a false sense of security surrounding mortality and COVID-19 as we are not seeing a rising death rate. Even though the U.S. is currently reporting almost 50,000 cases daily, it takes upwards of 4 weeks for the death rate to catch up to cases being reported. For example, if someone is infected with COVID-19 today, they generally don’t show symptoms for 5 days on average. Then it can take up to two weeks to experience symptoms; another 5-8 days to experience difficulty breathing since symptoms began, and then another 10-12 days on average to be admitted to the ICU since symptom onset. Then take into account the bureaucracy involved for reporting cases to the states and the CDC- this all adds up to a lag in the reported death rates.

Keep in mind that just because you are younger, you are not immune to the morbidity and mortality of COVID-19. Although younger people are at a lower risk of dying, many have, and still will require hospitalization. Statistics show that adults under 50 years old made up 25% of the hospitalizations during the initial wave, and that share has now increased to 35% since the beginning of May.

MMR Vaccine Could Protect Against the Worst Symptoms of COVID-19

Researchers have recently discovered that the MMR vaccine could have a protective role against the worst symptoms of COVID-19. This may be particularly beneficial to health care workers and other individuals that are commonly exposed to COVID-19. The live MMR vaccine can confer “nonspecific protection against lethal infections unrelated to the target pathogen of the vaccine”. A booster MMR can enhance the antibodies to measles, mumps, and rubella and reinitiate what are called myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). These MDSCs have been shown to inhibit sepsis and severe lung inflammation that is associated with COVID-19. Recent epidemiological data suggest a correlation between people in geographical locations who have received the MMR vaccine and reduced COVID-19 mortality.