Are booster vaccines the way out of this pandemic?

Vaccination promised a straightforward way out of the pandemic. Protection from TWO doses of vaccine initially promised to end the pandemic.

Israel led the way in mass vaccination. Infection rates plummeted and life seemed to be returning to normal.

But infection rates then started rising in Israel and Israel was forced to use booster vaccines for high risk population.

It is now hoped that the THIRD booster vaccines would provide a way of keeping COVID infections at a manageable level.

Only time will tell whether this strategy would be successful!

References

BBC Covid: What Israel tells us about the way out of the pandemic
By Rachel Schraer
Health reporter

Sky News. COVID-19: Scientists say vaccines could control pandemic … After two doses of Pfizer, there was a 70% reduction in all cases and a 90% drop in symptomatic cases, new data shows. Friday 23 April 2021 09:08, UK

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Should you elect to wear masks when restrictions are lifted ?

U.K. is on course to lift almost all COVID restrictions in mid July 2021.

A U.K. minister has said that “wearing masks” would become a personal choice.

Just because there is a choice, it does not mean it is always good for you.

Government decisions are often made not only with scientific facts but also with economic and political considerations. Compulsory masks may not be liked by a section of society and Government has to take that into account in a democratic society.

Personally electing to wear masks in crowded public places could be sensible for the following reasons.

– There is some debate about the extent of protection a person gets wearing masks following the Danish mask study. But no robust scientific study has shown significant harm from wearing masks. So it is better to be safe and wear masks even if the extent of protection is debatable.

Infections are rising now and luckily, vaccines seem to have protected most people from getting severe COVID. But Vaccines are not 100% effective. Moreover, when infection rates go up further and society opens up more, there is a risk of variants emerging that may be partially vaccine resistant. So wearing masks may provide some protection.

– Not all people get poorly when they get COVID. But these people with COVID can still pass infection to other vulnerable family members and people who don’t have the protection from vaccines. So wearing a mask can stop people with mild COVID from spreading the infection to others.

– Some people do not want to wear masks because they think they are not at risk of death or hospitalisation. Remember, COVID related problems affect different people in different ways. Lot of people do recover from COVID without major problems. But some people do develop long-term symptoms from COVID. So it is better to wear masks for COVID protection.

References

1. BBC news. Covid-19: Masks will become personal choice, says Robert Jenrick
By Emma Harrison & Kathryn Snowdon
BBC News

2. Bloomberg. Face Masks in England to Become ‘Matter of Personal Choice’
By Andrew Atkinson
4 July 2021, 09:47 BST
Updated on 4 July 2021, 11:14 BST

3. Daily Mail. SAJID JAVID: The economic arguments for opening up Britain are well known. But, for me, the health case is equally compelling. By Sajid Javid For The Mail On Sunday 22:02, 03 Jul 2021 , updated 23:13, 03 Jul 2021

4. BBC news. Covid-19 in the UK: How many coronavirus cases are there in my area?
By The Visual and Data Journalism Team
BBC News

5. Daily Mail. Face masks do NOT protect the wearer from coronavirus, but will stop them from infecting other people, Danish study finds. By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com and Reuters
15:26, 18 Nov 2020 , updated 18:02, 20 Nov 2020

6. BMJ. Danish mask study: masks, media, fact checkers, and the interpretation of scientific evidence. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4919 (Published 23 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4919

7. NICE. COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19
NICE guideline [NG188] Published: 18 December 2020

8. Coronavirus: When can we stop wearing face masks or coverings?
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

9. Science. Implications of defective immune responses in SARS-CoV-2 vaccinated organ transplant recipients. Peter S. Heeger, Christian P. Larsen, Dorry L. Segev

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should we continue to wear masks and be cautious in public places after July 19th ?

Yes, we should be cautious after the freedom day on July 19th and this is for the following reasons.

1. Vaccines are highly effective but they are NOT 100% effective.

2. Two doses are needed for full protection. Even though, more than two third of adults have had atleast one vaccine, only about half the U.K. population had double vaccination so far.

3. Vaccine Protection against New COVID variants may NOT be as good as it is now. For instance , vaccines are slightly less effective against the delta variant particularly after first dose.

4. Vaccine protection may decrease over time and Vaccines may not give the same level of protection as months pass by.

4. Being cautious now, may helps us to avoid lockdowns during Autumn and would help to save Christmas !

Of course, some people may feel strongly against any compulsory restrictions and hence it should not be made compulsory.

People, who are comfortable at being cautious, can try to wear masks and practice as much social distancing as possible in public places.

References

BBC News. Covid-19: End of England’s Covid rules still set for 19 July
By Hazel Shearing
BBC News

Daily Mail. Freedom Day ‘will see virtually ALL Covid curbs axed’: Ministers prepare full unlocking on July 19 with masks, social distancing and work from home advice dropped to save shattered businesses – but date will NOT be brought forward. By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline
08:29, 23 Jun 2021 , updated 14:52, 23 Jun 2021

Daily Mail. Now Jacob Rees-Mogg joins the calls to DITCH masks as soon as restrictions are lifted: Three Cabinet members break ranks to urge PM to ditch face coverings amid calls for clarity. By Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline and James Tapsfield Political Editor For Mailonline
17:40, 24 Jun 2021 , updated 19:56, 24 Jun 2021

Guardian. Vaccines are not magic bullets – we’ll still have to take precautions
Zania Stamataki
To make the most of England’s vaccination rollout we may need to keep wearing masks even after restrictions are lifted
Dr Zania Sta. Tue 22 Jun 2021 06.00 BST

Public Health England. Press release
Vaccines highly effective against hospitalisation from Delta variant
New analysis by PHE shows for the first time that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant. Published 14 June 2021

Public Health England (page 39).
Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern: technical briefings
Technical briefing documents on novel SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Last updated
25 June 2021

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Immune responses and immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
(last update 18 May 2021)

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Have People died after COVID-19 vaccines ?

Yes, people have died after having COVID-19 vaccines.

Recently, a BBC Radio Newcastle presenter, Lisa Shaw was reported to have died after the Astra Zeneca COVID vaccine. Her family is blaming the COVID vaccine for causing clots and ultimately her death.

In India, a Popular Tamil actor and comedian died within 48 hours of receiving a COVID vaccine. His vaccination was broadcast live on TV to encourage public uptake of vaccination but his unfortunate death after vaccination probably ended up causing vaccine hesitancy in some people.

A news article in BMJ reports that the “Pfizer-covid-19 vaccine is “likely” to have been responsible for at least 10 deaths of frail elderly people in nursing homes in Norway”.

But, the most important thing to remember is that deaths are rare after COVID-19 vaccines.

Yes, there are true distressing accounts of vaccine side effects. But what you do not hear is the benefit most people have from vaccines.

Millions of people received vaccines so far with vast majority having no major side effects.

Consider this for context. Think about plane accidents. Millions of people travel by plane without any problems. If People fly safely and reach their destination, it is not headline news. People do not go around saying that they have traveled safely by plane and that they are alive !

But a aeroplane accident which happens rarely is front page news. It would be all over the 24 hour TV news channels across the world. Plane accidents are utterly and unimaginably devastating for those individuals and families involved. But the rare plane accidents do not make most other people avoid flying. The accidents do not mean that no one should travel by plane. The travel by planes has far more benefits than risks for majority of population.

Same with COVID vaccines. Serous Side effects are headline news even if they are very uncommon and rare. The available data indicate benefits are much greater than risks.

So think carefully before you refuse a vaccine.

References

Guardian. Lisa Shaw death: BBC presenter had blood clots after AstraZeneca jab, family says
(Radio Newcastle broadcaster had severe headaches a week after vaccine and fell seriously ill days later, relatives say).
Lisa Shaw
Lucy Campbell
Thu 27 May 2021 18.36 BST

BMJ. News. Covid-19: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is “likely” responsible for deaths of some elderly patients, Norwegian review finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1372 (Published 27 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1372

BMJ. Research. Effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines on covid-19 related symptoms, hospital admissions, and mortality in older adults in England: test negative case-control study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1088 (Published 13 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1088

BMJ. News. Covid-19: Risk of cerebral blood clots from disease is 10 times that from vaccination, study finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1005 (Published 16 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1005

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Vaccine Hesitancy

Worries about vaccines are nothing new. Anti_vaccination groups were formed in 1860s when small pox vaccination was made compulsory. Even when small pox was causing untold devastation, some people were opposed to it.

The Vaccine hesitancy of 19th century is somewhat excusable. Some of the worries were real, and not much was known about the safety of small pox vaccine at that time. Lot of people were ill-informed and did not have access to good sources of information. They didn’t know the immense potential of the vaccination to eliminate distressing diseases.

Vaccines have now successfully eradicated small pox. Many other devastating infectious diseases such as polio have been controlled in many countries across the globe due to the vaccines.

Some of the vaccine hesitancy in west is because western people are not fully aware of the devastating power of infectious diseases (at least until COVID-19 came to the world in 2020).

Vaccine hesitancy is also sustained by “confirmation bias” . Confirmation bias is the tendency of human beings to seek information that confirms what they believe in. If you distrust vaccines, you go looking for information that confirms you beliefs and you disregard information that proves vaccines are hugely beneficial.

Some people wish for a 100% safe vaccine. But there is no such thing as completely risk free vaccine. It is true Vaccines can cause serious side effects. It is true that Vaccines can cause long term side effects. It is true that Vaccines can rarely cause life threatening side effects and even deaths.

It is normal to worry about side effects of vaccines. But the potential for side effects should not be the reason to decline vaccination.

One has to look at benefits as well as risks. Some people focus on everything bad that can happen as a result of vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines had an unusually short development period. This is because of the pandemic. The available evidence indicate that the benefits of the vaccines are far greater than risks. It is true that there is no long term safety data. But in the middle of a pandemic, which has caused untold misery to millions, waiting for perfect long term data is not an option.

If you are sceptical about vaccines, please do focus on benefits as well as risks. Do not focus on risks only.

References

BMJ. Practice Pointer. Covid-19 vaccination hesitancy. BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1138 (Published 20 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1138

BMJ. News. Covid-19: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is “likely” responsible for deaths of some elderly patients, Norwegian review finds.
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1372 (Published 27 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1372

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How effective are the COVID vaccines against the new Indian variant?

Everyone in U.K. hoped that we have turned the corner with this pandemic after the recent spike in infection from the Kent Variant,

But now comes the Variant from India. (the scientific name is B1.617.2 variant of concern).

The Indian variant appears to be more transmissible but no evidence yet that the Indian variant is inherently more deadly than the Kent variant.

Naturally, we are in a better place now than last year because of the vaccination.

But there is some evidence that spontaneous changes (mutations) in the B.1.617.2 variant virus may make it partially resistant to antibodies produced by vaccines.

So how effective are the current vaccines against this Variant from India?

Lab testing shows that the current vaccines can be still effective against the Indian variant but may not be highly effective as it is against the Kent/U.K. variant.

PHE data shows that after two doses, Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against Indian variant compared to 93% effectiveness against the Kent strain.

After two doses, AstraZeneca jab is 60% effective against Indian variant compared to 66% effectiveness against the Kent variant.

But after the first dose, both vaccines were only 33% effective against Indian variant compared to around 50% efficacy against the Kent strain.

The vaccine protection is better with two doses of vaccine and that’s why the Govt is speeding up second vaccine dose in affected areas.

Fingers crossed, hope this strategy works !

References

BMJ. Covid-19: Caution urged while lockdown eases in England because of vaccine success
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1203 (Published 11 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1203

BMJ News Covid-19: UK cases of variant from India rise by 160% in a week
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1315 (Published 21 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1315

U.K. Govt. Most vulnerable offered second dose of COVID-19 vaccine earlier to help protect against variants. From: Department of Health and Social Care. Published 14 May 2021

Telegraph: Two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine provide over 80 per cent protection against Indian variant, PHE study finds.

Guardian. India Covid variant: is it a threat to the UK’s reopening plans?
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Fri 14 May 2021 11.19 BST

Daily Mail. UK is in a ‘very good position’ against Covid variants as Pfizer says there is NO proof current jab needs updating to fight mutant strains. By Luke Andrews Health Reporter For Mailonline
16:30, 10 May 2021 , updated 18:12, 10 May 2021

Daily Mail. How deadly is India’s Covid variant and is it REALLY behind explosion of cases? Scientists say ‘perfect storm’ fuelled nation’s crisis and mutant strain just had a ‘head-start’ – as study shows vaccines DO work against it. By Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline
16:26, 27 Apr 2021 , updated 08:17, 28 Apr 2021

Collier, DA et al. SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 sensitivity to mRNA vaccine-elicited antibodies. Nature; 11 March 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03412-7

BBC. What is the India Covid variant and will vaccines work?
Soutik Biswas
India correspondent

BBC. Covid: Increasing confidence jabs work against Indian variant
By Doug Faulkner
BBC News

ONS. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: 21 May 2021 (“early signs of a potential increase in the week ending 15 May 2021”)

BBC. Covid: Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs effective against Indian variant – study
By Dulcie Lee
BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How effective is a single dose of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine?

UK government wanted as many people have “some” degree of protection against the COVID-19 rather a only few people having “full” protection against COVID-19.

So the U.K. government delayed the second dose of Covid vaccine for 12 weeks.

Some people have now been offered two vaccines but still there are many people who were yet to have the second dose. They would be wondering how effective a single dose of the vaccine is. How much protection they have now.

A recent paper published in BMJ provides very encouraging news .

With Pfizer vaccine, vaccine effectiveness reached 61% after 4 to 5 weeks of the first dose.

With AstraZeneca vaccine, vaccine effectiveness reached 73% after 5 weeks of first dose.

This data is very reassuring

But the data also stresses the importance of having the second dose for further protection.

Please do make a note that (a) vaccines do take a few weeks to be become effective after the first dose (b) no vaccine is 100% effective and (c) we also do not know how long this protection from vaccine will last.

BMJ. Effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines on covid-19 related symptoms, hospital admissions, and mortality in older adults in England: test negative case-control study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1088 (Published 13 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1088

BMJ. Public health impact of delaying second dose of BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 covid-19 vaccine: simulation agent based modeling study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1087 (Published 12 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1087

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Delaying second vaccine dose leaves cancer patients vulnerable to coronavirus

How effective is a single dose of Pfizer Vaccine in cancer patients?

Single dose is not very effective in cancer patients.

An UK study has now been peer reviewed and published in the esteemed Lancet oncology journal. The study showed inadequate protection after first dose.

More than half of the cancer patients receiving a single dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been left with little protection against the virus.

Two doses are critical and the second booster ideally need to be given on time at 21days.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Here we go again – another new variant that can derail the plans to return to normality in U.K.

The UK is coming out of lockdown and the infection rates, hospital admissions and deaths are reassuringly low.

The vaccination rates are rapidly going up and understandably many people are hoping for some sort of normality very soon.

But a new variant has been detected across the country. The scientists are worried about this new variant of coronavirus- called India variant. This variant can derail government plans in UK.

The current vaccines seem to offer somewhat less protection against this new variant . If this variant takes a strong foothold in UK , then we have to wait a bit longer for normality.

References:

Guardian: India Covid variant: is it a threat to the UK’s reopening plans?
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 13 May 2021 15.35 BST

BBC. Covid: Three cases of Indian variant found in Leicester
Published 28 April.

BBC. Covid: Targeted testing in Nottingham after Indian variant rise. 11 May.

BBC. Covid: Boris Johnson ‘anxious’ about Indian variant
By Hazel Shearing & Joseph Lee
BBC News. 13 May.

BBC. Covid vaccine: How many people in the UK have been vaccinated so far?
By The Visual and Data Journalism Team
BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Is it the beginning of the end ?

COVID-19 is still raging like wild fire in various parts of world particularly in India now.

But, in U.K, it does look like the “beginning of the end” for the COVID pandemic. Vaccines seem to have greatly aided this end.

On Tuesday, UK reported 1,946 new infections and only four deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

So unless there is a new variant which overcomes the protective shield of the Vaccines, there may be no more lockdowns and life may go back to some sort of normality.

References

BBC news. Another Covid lockdown unlikely, says scientist. By Hazel Shearing
BBC News

The official UK government website for data and insights on coronavirus (COVID-19).

BBC news. What is the India Covid variant and will vaccines work?
Soutik Biswas
India correspondent
Published22 April

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe in cancer patients having immunotherapy?

Yes, Pfizer vaccine is safe.

A recent study published in the esteemed Lancet Oncology Journal shows that the vaccine is well tolerated in patients having immunotherapy.

Unlike cancer chemotherapy, immunotherapy works differently. It works by releasing the in-built brakes holding down the immune system thereby boosting the body’s immune system against cancer.

There has been some theoretical concerns whether this might lead to COVID vaccine causing more side effects.

Reassuringly, the Vaccine side effects were NO different from those seen in people not having immunotherapy. The Vaccine also did NOT increase the immunotherapy side effects.

Immunotherapy is increasingly used widely in treatment of cancer are often better tolerated than chemotherapy.

So the study is good news for tens of thousands of patients on immunotherapy and any cancer patient who has hesitated before, should seriously consider having the vaccine now

COVID infection could be very nasty in cancer patients and all evidence points to the benefits of vaccine far outweighing any risks from the Vaccine.

References

Short-term safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in patients with cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors
The Lancet Oncology. Published: April 1, 2021
Barliz Waissengrin et al. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00155-8

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Covid-19: Can you catch the coronavirus while exercising outdoors?

Yes, you can.

But the risk depends on how long and how close you have been in touch with an infected person.

Momentarily passing someone while jogging is extremely unlikely to lead to an infection.

But face to face contact lasting many minutes with a friend or someone who is infected can lead to an infection.

There is a good article on how BBC website.

References:

BBC. Covid-19: Can you catch the virus outside?https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-55680305
By David Shukman. Science editor.

Mayo Clinic. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. By Mayo Clinic Staff.

Imperial. Airborne transmission of COVID-19 carrier particles during exercise.

UK. Ministry of Housing, Communities &
Local Government. Guidance. COVID-19: Guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms. Updated 6 January 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

What is evidence for delaying the 2nd dose of COVID-19 ?

The UK has made a pragmatic decision based on limited available evidence to delay the second dose so that more people can get the vaccine.

While there is some evidence for the Oxford vaccine, there is scant public evidence in support of delaying the Pfizer vaccine.

A BMJ news article provides an excellent summary of the current evidence.

Only time will whether there are any major risks to this approach.

Reference: Covid-19 vaccination: What’s the evidence for extending the dosing interval? BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n18 (Published 06 January 2021). Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n18

Covid-19: Order to reschedule and delay second vaccine dose is “totally unfair,” says BMA
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4978 (Published 31 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4978

NHS. Letter to chief executives of all NHS trusts and foundation trusts. 30 Dec 2020. https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/12/C0994-System-letter-COVID-19-vaccination-deployment-planning-30-December-2020.pdf.

NHS. Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. When the 2nd dose will be given.

Daily Mail. Pfizer warns there is NO proof its Covid jab works when doses are taken 12 weeks apart as UK regulator scraps 21-day rule in desperate attempt to get millions more vaccinated. By Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline
14:52, 30 Dec 2020 , updated 16:58, 30 Dec 2020

Statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers on the prioritisation of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Joint clinical advice from the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers on the prioritisation of first doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines. Published 30 December 2020.

Priority groups for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination: advice from the JCVI, 30 December 2020. Advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Why do some people falsely believe COVID-19 is a hoax ?

It is quite difficult to give a single reason why some people believe COVID-19 is a hoax.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, there has been so much anxiety, stress and severe disruption to the everyday life.

Most people like certainty with everyday life. Most people do not wake up and think that there is very very tiny chance I might die today (even though that’s true).

Thinking about bad things all the time can make you feel very stressed and exhausted . In a way, it is healthy NOT to focus on all the bad things that can happen everyday.

The daily bad news about Coronavirus pandemic can be very upsetting to some people, particularly if you cannot mentally switch off.

So some people mentally cope by believing the COVID-19 is fake news. Believing COVID-19 is a hoax helps some people to get on with their lives without being very fearful and worried everyday. It is a coping mechanism.

Unfortunately social media doesn’t help and lot of fake news sites tell people that it is no worse than a simple flu. (which is not true, COVID-19 is certainly much worse than simple flu).

It is true that only about 1% of people with COVID-19 die due to the disease. But if ten million people get infected in a country that means an extra 100,000 deaths. If the whole population of UK were to get the infection, theoretically it could mean at least an extra 500,000 deaths.

COVID-19 is particularly bad for old people . The risk of death is <1 per 10 000 for someone aged less than 30 but the risk is much higher for older age groups. For example, in men aged 80 or older, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is just over 1 in 10.

Be safe. Be aware.

Do trust the NHS website rather than a “friend of a friend” on social media.

References:

Guardian Newspaper. Doctors are our frontline against Covid. Now they lead the fight against its deniers, too
Gaby Hinsliff. Mon 4 Jan 2021 14.36 GMT

Newspaper headlines: ‘Lockdown 3′ and ‘race to vaccinate vulnerable’
By BBC News. 5 Jan 2021.

“Normal” risk and dangers of covid-19
Awareness of normal risk is not normal
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4121 (Published 29 October 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4121 https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/371/bmj.m4121.full.pdf

Spiegelhalter D. Use of “normal” risk to improve understanding of dangers of covid-19. BMJ2020;370:m3259. doi:10.1136/bmj.m3259. pmid:32907857

Comparative evaluation of clinical manifestations and risk of death in patients admitted to hospital with covid-19 and seasonal influenza: cohort study. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4677 (Published 15 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4677

Infection fatality risk for SARS-CoV-2 in community dwelling population of Spain: nationwide seroepidemiological study
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4509 (Published 27 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4509. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4509

Office for National statistics. Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2019.

NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19). Get the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Will the existing COVID vaccines work against the new Coronavirus variant spreading in England ?

A new variant of Corona virus is spreading fast in England.

Some Hospitals in England are reportedly being swamped with COVID patients.

The whole world is placing their bets on vaccines to defeat the Coronavirus and emerge out of this dreadful pandemic.

Studies are ongoing about the effectiveness of vaccines against this new variant coronavirus. There is a risk that changes seen in the variant virus (mutations) might make it evade the vaccine shield.

So far, there has been no conclusive evidence that the variant virus will definitely escape the vaccines. Even if they do, the good news is that current vaccines can be adapted to deal with the changes in the virus.

Reference

(1) BBC News. New coronavirus variant: What do we know?. By James Gallagher
Health and science correspondent. Published 20 December 2020.

(2) BBC News. Newspaper headlines: ‘Vacc to the future’ and village hall jabs.

(3) Preliminary genomic characterisation of an emergent SARS-CoV-2 lineage in the UK defined by a novel set of spike mutations.

(4) Neutralising antibodies drive Spike mediated SARS-CoV-2 evasion.

(5). Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4857 (Published 16 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4857

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the new vaccine against COVID-19 causing CoronaVirus safe and effective ?

Yes, the available short term data indicates the vaccine is safe and effective in vast majority of people.

The big unknown is the long term efficacy and side effects.

Normally medicine progresses slowly and carefully like a big train turning slowly on sharp uphill bend .

But due to pandemic emergency, the vaccines are being introduced to the the general public more more earlier than it would have done, well before availability of more mature data.

Long term, there are some uncertainties. For instance, there is a possibility of loss of efficacy if vaccine effect is not long lasting. But there is no evidence to suggest at present this would happen. As regards long term side effects, once more data is collected and more patients are followed up after vaccination, there will more mature data on side effects.

The available data suggests that very high groups who are a high risk of death from COVID , have good odds of benefitting from vaccine.

The trial data published so far, UK Medicine regulator conclusions , Pfizer data sheet and UK govt Guidelines has been positive so far.

It may be that low risk groups such as people in 20s, who have less chance of dying from COVID, may opt for more long term data before having the vaccination.

References:

NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

MHRA Regulatory approval of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19

Information for UK recipients on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Updated 16 December 2020.

Information for Healthcare Professionals on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Updated 16 December 2020.

Public Health England. COVID-19 vaccination programme. Information for healthcare practitioners. Published December 2020. Version 2.1

The Green book chapter 14a COVID-19-SARS-Cov-2.

PHE. Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 9/12/2020.

British Society for Rheumatology. Guidance for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.


The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the new variant of Coronavirus more dangerous?

Yes and No

The new mutant is more dangerous because it is more easily transmissible from person to person. The new variant is now spreading very rapidly in London and South East of England.

But, so far, the new variant has NOT been found to be more deadly than the original version. The new variant does NOT seem to have substantially increased the risk of hospitalisation and death anymore than the original version of coronavirus.

Emergence of this new mutant (called variant VUI-202012/01 fall) is a certainly a worrying development in this pandemic.

The mutations has made the new strain 70 per cent more transmissible but scientists do not expect these mutations to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Tests are being carried out to confirm that the existing vaccines would still have a high degree of protective affect.

It is an evolving area and we have to hope that the new variant doesn’t make things worse than they are now !

Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4857 (Published 16 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4857

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is this the beginning of the end for COVID-19 ?

The superstitious might say “don’t jinx it by calling the end early”……..

So the answer is “may be”.

The good news from two Vaccine trials indicates that this might be “beginning of the end” for COVID-19.

Two recent press reports give rise to lot of optimism to the population that is getting weary with the lockdown. It is good to have a ray of hope among all the doom and gloom.

The covid-19 vaccine (mRNA-1273) from US biotech company Moderna was found to be 94.5% effective.

Another mRNA vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was reported to be 90% effective.

Now the caveats…. these are interim trial results and the trial results have not been subject to scrutiny by the wider scientific community as the full results are yet to be published.

Clinical Trials usually recruit motivated people without too many other medical problems. So one has to hope that these interim trial results can be replicated in the wider elderly population with lot of medical problems.

Update: Now a third Vaccine, the “Oxford Vaccine” has been found to be 90% effective when given as “a half and then full” schedule.

Update: summary so far at BMJ website.

Let’s hope that all the vaccines are very safe and highly effective when used in the real world population.

References: (1). Covid-19: Vaccine candidate may be more than 90% effective, interim results indicate. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4347 (Published 09 November 2020). Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4347.

(2). Covid-19: Moderna vaccine is nearly 95% effective, trial involving high risk and elderly people shows. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4471 (Published 17 November 2020). Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4471

(3). Covid-19: Oxford vaccine is up to 90% effective, interim analysis indicates
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4564 (Published 23 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4564

Covid-19: What do we know about the late stage vaccine candidates?. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4576 (Published 24 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4576

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Some good news amid the doom and gloom: People have Longer immunity to Coronavirus infection after recovering from it.

After someone has recovered from a Coronavirus infection, the body remembers how to fight the virus in future. This is called immunity and it is not known how long this immunity will last.

If the immunity is not long lasting, people can get coronavirus infection again during the second and even third wave.

The body’s immunity is made up of two types of cells: B cells and T cells. T cells and B cells are central to the human immune system.

B cells produce antibodies and previously in various studies , they were found to decline rapidly give rise to fear that people would get Coronavirus infection again and again.

Now a study has reported that T cell immunity can last more than 6 months in patients who have recovered from an infection.

This news is also good from a vaccine point of view. It gives us hope that sooner or later an effective vaccine would become available.

BMJ News.
Covid-19: T cell response lasts for at least six months after infection, study shows
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4257 (Published 02 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4257

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Are families of Healthcare workers at increased risk of hospital admission due to COVID-19 ?

Yes !

“Patient Facing” healthcare workers do admirably put them at harms way during this Coronavirus pandemic .

So health workers are at increased risk of getting admitted to hospital due to COVID-19.

But a recent Paper in BMJ says that families of healthcare workers are also at increased risk of hospital admission. In very few other lines of work, does the occupational hazard affect the families of workers as well.

The authors report “ …. patient facing healthcare workers and members of their households were, respectively, threefold and twofold more likely to be admitted to hospital. Healthcare workers and their households accounted for one in six of all admissions with covid-19 in the working age population (18-65 years).”

The paper says “Among admitted healthcare workers, one in eight were admitted into critical care and six (2.5%) died; in admitted household members, one in five were admitted to critical care and 18 (12.9%) died.”

Routine testing of healthcare workers and early testing of families as well as better access to effective PPE is urgently needed.

References : 1. Risk of hospital admission with coronavirus disease 2019 in healthcare workers and their households: nationwide linkage cohort study. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3582 (Published 28 October 2020)Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m3582

2. Covid-19: risks to healthcare workers and their families. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3944 (Published 28 October 2020)Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m3944

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Coronavirus re-infection and immunity

Many Viral infections give some sort of immunity to the person infected. For example, if a child has chicken pox, then the child develops immunity to further chicken pox. This immunity can even be life long for many children.

But some viral infections don’t result in significant immunity to further infection. For example, Flu and Common Cold viruses infections do not result in effective long immunity. That’s why flu vaccines are given yearly to vulnerable people.

It was hoped that a Coronavirus infection could result in at least some sort of long immunity to further infections.

A recent report of man who developed Coronavirus/ COVID-19 for the second time is worrying. If this is a widespread phenomenon and not an isolated case, then it has significant implications for the current pandemic.

Herd immunity, whereby many people are immune to further Coronavirus infection either through previous infection or Vaccination, was suggested as the way of ending the current pandemic.

This report, if confirmed to be true across significant sections of population, would indicate a much more longer duration of COVID-19 pandemic.

References:

1. BBC news: Covid reinfection: Man gets Covid twice and second hit ‘more severe’
By James Gallagher
Health and science correspondent

2. Lancet Infectious diseases. Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study. Richard L Tillett, PhD, Joel R Sevinsky, PhD, Paul D Hartley, PhD, Heather Kerwin, MPH, Natalie Crawford, MD, Andrew Gorzalski, PhD, et al.
Published:October 12, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30764-7

3. Lancet Infectious diseases. What reinfections mean for COVID-19. Akiko Iwasaki
Published:October 12, 2020. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30783-0Edridge AWD

4. Edridge AWD, Kaczorowska et al.Seasonal coronavirus protective immunity is short-lasting.Nat Med. 2020; (published online Sept 14.)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-1083-1View in Article

5. Tillett RL et al. Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study.Lancet Infect Dis. 2020; (published online Oct 12.)https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30764-7View in Article

6. To KK-W et al. COVID-19 re-infection by a phylogenetically distinct SARS-coronavirus-2 strain confirmed by whole genome sequencing.Clin Infect Dis. 2020; (published online Aug 25.)https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa1275View in Article

7. Van Elslande J et al.Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 reinfection by a phylogenetically distinct strain.Clin Infect Dis. 2020; (published online Sept 5.)https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa1330View in Article

8. Prado-Vivar B et al.COVID-19 re-infection by a phylogenetically distinct SARS-CoV-2 variant, first confirmed event in South America.SSRN. 2020; (published online Sept 8.) (preprint)https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3686174View in Article

9. Dearlove B et al. A SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate would likely match all currently circulating variants.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2020; 117: 23652-23662View in Article

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

How long can Coronavirus Virus Survive on doors, handles, furniture and fittings?

Coronavirus was previously known to survive for about 3 days at room temperatures. (On certain surfaces made of plastic and stainless steel).

Now an Australian team has found that Coronavirus can survive upto 28 days in Cold conditions. The results need to be interpreted with great caution as it tested virus under unusual artificial conditions and hence might not be relevant for real life situations

On the other hand , if the study is right, then it might indicate that the Pandemic can get worse during cold Winter before it gets better in Spring and Summer.

What can we do? In addition to Social distancing measures and Mask wearing, Frequent hand washing would stop the Virus from Spreading.

Every Week , we are learning more about the Virus. Let’s hope it comes to an end soon.

1. BBC news: Covid-19 virus ‘survives on some surfaces for 28 days’. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54500673

2. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8828459/Coronavirus-survive-MONTH-surfaces-including-banknotes-mobile-phone-screens.html

3. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1
April 16, 2020
N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1564-1567
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Risk of Death from COVID-19: does ethnicity matter?

Yes, people from different ethnicities are affected in different ways by Coronavirus.

People of white ethnicity seems to be at lower risk.

People of black ethnicity seem to have higher risk of severe disease but seem to survive better than South Asians in UK.

South Asians who are hospitalised in UK due to severe disease seem to have the highest risk of death.

More work needs to be done to identify underlying the biological factors responsible for the increased risk of death in South Asians in UK.

BBC News. Covid: South Asian hospital patients ‘at greater risk of dying’

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.


The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Coronavirus : Why Hand hygiene is also important in addition to Face mask ?

The UK government’s slogan for controlling COVID-19 pandemic is “ ‘Hands. Face. Space

The reason hands are emphasised is because the Virus can stay alive on Human skin for many hours. So touching others by hugging or hand shaking can spread the virus.

A recent Japanese study found that Coronavirus can stay alive on skin surfaces for about 9 hours. They also found that alcohol gel can inactivate the virus in about 15 seconds !

References:

1. Survival of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus on the human skin: Importance of hand hygiene in COVID-19 Ryohei Hirose, Hiroshi Ikegaya, Yuji Naito, Naoto Watanabe, Takuma Yoshida, Risa Bandou, Tomo Daidoji, Yoshito Itoh, Takaaki NakayaClinical Infectious Diseases, ciaa1517, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa1517 Published: 03 October 2020

2. Guardian: Coronavirus outbreakHands. Face. Space’: UK government to relaunch Covid-19 slogan.

3. Fox News: The coronavirus can survive on skin for this many hours, study suggests
Researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 outlived the influenza A virus on human skin
. Madeline Farber By Madeline Farber | Fox News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.
The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Once a week chemotherapy is not superior to Chemotherapy given once every 3-weeks

Advanced ovarian cancer is treated by chemotherapy. A pre ious study of Japanese ovarian cancer patients RT showed significantly increased survival in those treated with dose-dense weekly paclitaxel compared to the standard three-weekly schedule.

Data from an international trial called ICON8 was presented at the ESMO Virtual Congress 2020, this week.

The final analysis of ICON8 “provides conclusive evidence that although weekly dose-dense chemotherapy can be successfully administered as first-line treatment for ovarian cancer, it has no survival advantage over the standard chemotherapy given once every 3 weeks.

ICON8: Overall survival results in a GCIG phase III randomised controlled trial of weekly dose-dense chemotherapy in first line epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal carcinoma treatment. Citation. Annals of Oncology (2020) 31 (suppl_4): S551-S589. 10.1016/annonc/annonc276

ESMO Daily Reporter: OVARIAN CANCER: FIRST-LINE DOSE-DENSE CHEMOTHERAPY IS NOT SUPERIOR TO STANDARD 3-WEEKLY CHEMOTHERAPY.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Which is better for COVID-19 protection : face masks or face shields.

Various type of masks are used by public for protection against COVID-19.

Some wear cloth masks. Some use medical disposable masks. Some wear face shields particularly those working in shops.

Are they all the same?.

No

Recent evidence indicates that standard light-blue disposable surgical masks are the most effective at containing the Cornovirus.

Face shields were found to be failing when compared with standard ( triple layer) medical grade masks.

References

1. Face shields ineffective at trapping aerosols, says Japanese supercomputer. Guardian Newspaper. Justin McCurry in Tokyo. Tue 22 Sep 2020 07.19 BST. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/22/face-shields-ineffective-trapping-aerosols-japanese-supercomputer-coronavirus

2. Do cloth masks work? Supercomputer Fugaku says yes.World’s fastest computer calculates that nonwoven fabric is best. YUKI MISUMI, Nikkei staff writer. August 25, 2020 00:34 JST. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Technology/Do-cloth-masks-work-Supercomputer-Fugaku-says-yes

3. Visualizing droplet dispersal for face shields and masks with exhalation valves. Physics of Fluids 32, 091701 (2020); https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0022968

4. Visualizing the effectiveness of face masks in obstructing respiratory jets. Siddhartha Verma, Manhar Dhanak, and John Frankenfield. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0022968
Phys Fluids (1994). 2020.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

COVID-19 risk assessment of NHS members : is it an opportunity missed?

The National Health Service had recently embarked on a Risk assessment exercise of its staff to assess the Vulnerability of individual members to Coronavirus infection ( COVID-19).

The exercise is being done with good intentions. Given the unprecedented situation of the pandemic and lack of concrete data , the exercise seemed to have steered away from firm “one size fits all” type of recommendations.

Given the uncertainties with the currently available data on various forms of protection ( from simple surgical masks to shielding) , the exercise could have been a starting point for an nationwide intervention study .

An opportunity seems to have been missed and if there is a second wave, NHS might regret not learning from the first wave.

Please do add your opinion at the rapid response section of the BMJ.

References

1. Covid-19 risk assessment in BAME staff

Covid-19 risk assessment: a futile metaphorical strip search

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3251 (Published 26 August 2020)

Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3251

2. Physical distancing interventions and incidence of coronavirus disease 2019: natural experiment in 149 countries

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2743 (Published 15 July 2020)

Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2743

3. Complete protection from covid-19 is possible for health workers

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2641 (Published 07 July 2020)

Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2641

4. Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing in covid-19?

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3223 (Published 25 August 2020)

Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3223

If you survive the Coronavirus, Can you get Coronavirus infection again ?

Yes, you can get infection again.

Last month, we had studies reporting that the immunity to Coronavirus fades quickly after recovering from an infection. The scientists have warned that re-infection is a risk.

Now, we have a case in Hong Kong where a patient seem to have been unlucky to get the infection again. It is a worrying report and suggests that coronavirus is going to be with us for a long time.

The only reassuring fact is that patient was free of symptoms during second infection. One has to hope that all re-infections are mild !

References

1. Sundar.blog. CAN YOU GET CORONAVIRUS INFECTION MORE THAN ONCE?

2. BBC. Hong Kong reports ‘first case’ of virus reinfection.

3. Clinical Infectious Diseases : report on twitter.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Can you catch Coronavirus infection from Soft drink cans, Sandwich wrapper and Amazon Parcels?

Yes. Possible but chances are very small according to reports.

If someone sneezed or coughed near a parcel or food package and you touch it within a few hours, it is possible to get Coronavirus infection from parcels and packages.

But, in practice, most parcels and food packaging seem safe and no conclusive real world evidence has been published so far to indicate that packages spread infection widely.

In experimental conditions, Coronavirus has been shown to survive for upto 72 hours. The virus is “more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard”.

In laboratory conditions “On copper, no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus was measured after 4 hours . On cardboard, no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus was measured after 24 hours”.

In the artificial conditions of the lab “The longest viability of viruses was on stainless steel and plastic; the estimated median half-life of SARS-CoV-2 virus was approximately 5.6 hours on stainless steel and 6.8 hours on plastic”.

Solution: If you are worried , and if possible, you can try leaving parcels for 24hrs before touching them with bare hands. Alternatively, try wearing disposable gloves to remove packaging.

References

1.NEJM. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. April 16, 2020. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1564-1567. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973

2. BBC. Coronavirus: What are the risks of catching it from food packaging?

3. CDC. How It Spreads.

Can Coronavirus linger in air, and cause COVID-19 by spreading through air ?

Normally many flu-like viruses spread by direct or close contact.

Because Virus containing droplets are heavier than air, scientifically it is thought that when someone coughs or sneezes, virus particles quickly fall to ground or surrounding objects.(“like a brick or stone falling to ground“).

But a group of scientists and WHO have raised the possibility that coronavirus can stay in air for longer periods, float around and cause more infections. (“float like a balloon“). This is called air-borne transmission.

What does it mean?

If confirmed– this means “closed spaces” are high risk even if you maintain 2 metre distance from an infected person. AVOID CLOSED SPACES.

As many people in UK do not wear masks in public places, there is a high chance of second wave of infections in the coming weeks as lock down is eased. WEAR A MASK.

It also means avoiding non-essential visitors to hospitals so that visitors cannot catch the infection or pass the infection to vulnerable patients. AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL VISITORS AT HOSPITALS.

If air borne transmission is confirmed, it is also bad news for the coming winter.

If Coronavirus is still in community and not eliminated by winter, air-borne transmission is likely to result in further wave of infections.

This is because Winter means more closed spaces and more chance of infection !!!!!!

STAY SAFE

References

1. Daily Mail Newspaper. Group of 239 scientists demand that WHO admit coronavirus is AIRBORNE -meaning the public should wear masks indoors and AC units should be fitted with filters .By Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com and Reuters and Associated Press. 17:44, 05 Jul 2020 , updated 08:14, 06 Jul 2020

2. Guardian Newspaper. WHO underplaying risk of airborne spread of Covid-19, say scientists. Open letter says there is emerging evidence of potential for aerosol transmission. Hannah Devlin. Science correspondent. @hannahdev

3. Guardian Newspaper. Coronavirus outbreak Global report: WHO says ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne coronavirus spread. Martin Farrer and agencies.

4. BBC News. Coronavirus: WHO rethinking how Covid-19 spreads in air.

5. It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of COVID-19. Lidia Morawska, Donald K Milton. Clinical Infectious Diseases, ciaa939, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa939. Published: 06 July 2020

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Chloroquine not useful for treating or preventing Coronavirus infections

Randomised Study is the considered as the gold standard for trials.

Placebos are dummy pills . Placebos are inactive drugs that look like the real drug but are essentially sugar coated dummy pills.

Trials which involve a placebo vs active drug comparison are considered one of the best trials for some clinical situations.

A “randomised trial” involving “Chloroquine ” and “placebo ” has been published in NEJM .

A randomised trial suggests Chloroquine is not better than a placebo in treatment of COVID.

Another randomised trial suggests, Hydroxycloroquine is not useful for prevention of COVID-19.

In summary, Hydroxycloroquine is not useful either as COVID-19 treatment or as a COVID-19 preventative drug as advocates in certain countries.

Please Note : Chloroquine and HydroxyChloroquine are different drugs but have broadly similar effects.

References

1. Guardian newspaper: Coronavirus outbreak. Hydroxychloroquine no better than placebo, Covid-19 study finds.

2. NEJM. https://www.nejm.org/

3. BMJ India Correspondent. Covid-19: Doctors criticise Indian research agency for recommending hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis. BMJ2020;369:m2170. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2170 pmid:32471832.

4. BMJ news: Covid-19: Hydroxychloroquine does not benefit hospitalised patients, UK trial finds. BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2263 (Published 08 June 2020)

5. BMJ news. Covid-19: Hydroxychloroquine was ineffective as postexposure prophylaxis, study finds. BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2242 (Published 05 June 2020)

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Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Cancer and COVID-19

Coronavirus infection seems to be more deadly in patients whose immune systems are not functioning very well.

So cancer patients who have reduced immunity due to chemotherapy are understandably at higher risk of death.

Among cancer patients, those patients whose cancer is progressing ( i.e cancer not under control ) seem to at even more from COVID-19.

A study presented at the ASCO ( American Society of Clinical Oncology) reports that ” after a COVID-19 diagnosis, patients with progressing cancer were found to be 5.2 times more likely to die within 30 days”.

So stay safe and consider shielding if your cancer is not under control .

Furthermore, there is lot of interest in use of Chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug for treatment of COVID-19. The study reports that “Treatment with the drug combination hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was also strongly associated with greater risk of death”. So best to avoid unproven treatments outside a trial setting.

References

1. ASCO News. Early Data Show Cancer Progression Associated With Increased Risk of Death in Patients With COVID-19. May 28, 2020.

2. ASCO News. Chemo Within 3 Months of COVID-19 Diagnosis Associated With an Increased Risk of Death in Patients With Thoracic Cancer. May 2020.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is Chloroquine useful in treatment of Corona Virus?

Chloroquine and the related drug Hydroxy-Chloroquine are drugs commonly used to prevent and treat Malaria infections; and treat some Joint conditions.

During the initial stages of COVID-19 pandemic, there were some reports of Chloroquine being useful in treating Corona Virus.

A Chinese trial published in British Medical Journal BMJ now reports that ” Administration of hydroxychloroquine did not result in …. any meaningful antiviral benefits… compared to standard of care alone in patients admitted to hospital with mainly persistent mild to moderate covid-19

Chloroquine was not only useless but it had significant side effects in a minority. So Chloroquine or Hydroxy-Chloroquine should not be used routinely outside a clinical trial setting.

References

1. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Wiki. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxychloroquine

2. BMJ. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in covid-19. BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1432 (Published 08 April 2020)

3. Hydroxychloroquine in patients with mainly mild to moderate coronavirus disease 2019: open label, randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1849 (Published 14 May 2020)

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Face Masks: Should Public wear face masks because of Corona Virus pandemic ?

Should Public wear face masks because of Corona Virus pandemic ?

Yes.

In some of the Asian Countries there has been universal acceptance of face masks even before Corona Virus pandemic. Hence, it is not surprising that there is wide spread use of face masks during this pandemic .

In USA, after initial hesitation, CDC now recommends use of cloth face masks by public.

In Germany, many states have made face masks compulsory.

In UK, there has been no official recommendation about widespread use of face masks.

With so many unknowns, it is prudent to follow the advice published in British Medical Journal : WEAR A MASK !!

References

1. USA CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

2 Germany: BBC news. Coronavirus: Germany’s states make face masks compulsory. 22 April 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52382196

3. TIME Magazine. https://time.com/5815251/should-you-wear-a-mask-coronavirus/

4. BMJ paper. Analysis. Face masks for the public during the covid-19 crisis. BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1435 (Published 09 April 2020). Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1435

5. BMJ editorial. Editorial. Covid-19: should the public wear face masks?. Editorials. Covid-19: should the public wear face masks? BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1442 (Published 09 April 2020). Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1442

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Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views expressed are not substitute for professional advice.