Study reports patient-reported loss of smell in 86% of mild COVID-19 cases

News Release:

A reduced sense of smell, or olfactory dysfunction, is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. A recent study published the Journal of Internal Medicine has examined it prevalence and recovery in patients with varying degrees of severity of COVID-19.

In the study of 2,581 patients from 18 European hospitals, the patient-reported prevalence of olfactory dysfunction was 85.9% in mild cases of COVID-19, 4.5% in moderate cases, and 6.9% in severe-to-critical cases. The average duration of olfactory dysfunction reported by patients was 21.6 days, but nearly one-quarter of affected patients reported that they did not recover their sense of smell 60 days after losing it.

Objective clinical evaluations identified olfactory dysfunction in 54.7% of mild cases of COVID-19 and 36.6% of moderate-to-critical cases of COVID-19. At 60 days and 6 months, 15.3% and 4.7% of these patients did not objectively recover their sense of smell, respectively.

“Olfactory dysfunction is more prevalent in mild COVID-19 forms than in moderate-to-critical forms, and 95% of patients recover their sense of smell at 6-months post-infection,” said lead author Jerome R. Lechien, MD, PhD, MS, of Paris Saclay University.

Smoking associated with increased risk of COVID-19 symptoms

Press release:

Smoking is associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 symptoms and smokers are more likely to attend hospital than non-smokers, a study has found.

The study published today in Thorax, by researchers from King’s College London, investigates the association between smoking and the severity of the COVID-19.

Researchers analysed data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study App. Of the participants of the app, 11% were smokers. This is a lower proportion than the overall UK population of 14.7%, however, it reflects the demographics of the self-selected sample of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study.

While more than a third of users reported not feeling physically well during the period of study (24th March and April 2020), current smokers were 14% more likely to develop the classic triad of symptoms suggesting diagnosis of COVID-19: fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath – compared to non-smokers.

Continue reading “Smoking associated with increased risk of COVID-19 symptoms”

New virtual screening strategy identifies existing drug that inhibits Covid-19 virus

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Press Release:

A novel computational drug screening strategy combined with lab experiments suggest that pralatrexate, a chemotherapy medication originally developed to treat lymphoma, could potentially be repurposed to treat Covid-19. Haiping Zhang of the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology in Shenzhen, China, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology.

With the Covid-19 pandemic causing illness and death worldwide, better treatments are urgently needed. One shortcut could be to repurpose existing drugs that were originally developed to treat other conditions. Computational methods can help identify such drugs by simulating how different drugs would interact with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Continue reading “New virtual screening strategy identifies existing drug that inhibits Covid-19 virus”

Allergists offer reassurance regarding potential allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines

News Release:

BOSTON – Reports of possible allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, both recently approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have raised public concern. A team of experts led by allergists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has now examined all relevant information to offer reassurance that the vaccines can be administered safely even to people with food or medication allergies. The group’s review is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

In response to accounts of potential allergic reactions in some people following COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom, that country’s medical regulatory agency advised that individuals with a history of anaphylaxis to a medicine or food should avoid COVID-19 vaccination. After closer review of the data related to allergic reactions, however, the FDA recommended that the vaccines be withheld only from individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that all patients be observed for 15 minutes post-vaccination by staff who can identify and manage such reactions. The U.S. agencies do not recommend that people with food or medication allergies avoid vaccination.

Continue reading “Allergists offer reassurance regarding potential allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines”

Sustained cellular immune dysregulation in individuals recovering from COVID-19

Press Release:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – COVID-19, which has killed 1.7 million people worldwide, does not follow a uniform path.

Many infected patients remain asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Others, especially those with comorbidities, can develop severe clinical disease with atypical pneumonia and multiple system organ failure.

Since the first cases were reported in December 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has surged into a pandemic, with cases and deaths still mounting. Ongoing observational clinical research has become a priority to better understand how this previously unknown virus acts, and findings from this research can better inform treatment and vaccine design.

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers, led by first-author Jacob “Jake” Files and co-senior authors Nathan Erdmann, M.D., Ph.D., and Paul Goepfert, M.D., have now reported their observational study, “Sustained cellular immune dysregulation in individuals recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infection,” published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Continue reading “Sustained cellular immune dysregulation in individuals recovering from COVID-19”

Long-lasting COVID immunity gives real hope for the long-term protection of vaccines

Press release:

Australian researchers have revealed – for the first time – that people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus have immune memory to protect against reinfection for at least eight months.

The research is the strongest evidence for the likelihood that vaccines against the virus, SARS-CoV-2, will work for long periods.  Previously, many studies have shown that the first wave of antibodies to coronavirus wane after the first few months, raising concerns that people may lose immunity quickly.  This new work allays these concerns.

The study is the result of a multi-centre collaboration led by Associate Professor Menno van Zelm, from the Monash University Department of Immunology and Pathology, with the Alfred Research Alliance between Monash University, The Alfred hospital and the Burnet Institute, and published today in the prestigious journal, Science Immunology. The publication reveals the discovery that specific cells within the immune system called memory B cells, “remembers” infection by the virus, and if challenged again, through re-exposure to the virus, triggers a protective immune response through rapid production of protective antibodies.

Continue reading “Long-lasting COVID immunity gives real hope for the long-term protection of vaccines”

Disposable surgical masks best for being heard clearly when speaking, study finds

Masks are an important tool for fighting COVID-19 but wearing one can make it difficult for others to hear us speak. Using a unique laboratory setup, Illinois researcher Ryan Corey tested how different types of masks affect the acoustics of speech.

Press Release:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researcher Ryan Corey recently heard from a friend who teaches at a school where some of the students have hearing loss. The friend wanted to know if he had any ideas to help her communicate with these students while wearing a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19. Corey, who also has hearing loss, did not know what to tell her. So, he headed to the Illinois Augmented Listening Laboratory to look for solutions.

Corey, an electrical and computer engineering postdoctoral researcher under professor Andrew Singer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, leads a team that studies audio signal processing, especially for listening devices like hearing aids. The results of the team’s new study evaluating the acoustic effects of face masks on speech are published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Continue reading “Disposable surgical masks best for being heard clearly when speaking, study finds”

Neurologic complications common even in moderate COVID-19 cases

MINNEAPOLIS – COVID-19 can lead to a broad range of neurologic complications including stroke, seizures, movement disorders, inflammatory diseases and more, even in moderate cases, according to a new study published in the December 9, 2020, online issue of Neurology® Clinical Practice, an official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“We looked at people with neurologic symptoms and COVID at a racially and socioeconomically diverse hospital and found a wide range of neurologic complications–spanning inflammatory complications, stroke and other vascular conditions, metabolic problems, exacerbation of underlying neurologic conditions and more,” said study author Pria Anand, M.D. of Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Yet the majority of these people did not require critical care, suggesting that neurologic complications may be common in people with moderate COVID-19 as well as those with severe disease.”

Continue reading “Neurologic complications common even in moderate COVID-19 cases”

Physicians say non-contact infrared thermometers fall short as COVID-19 screeners

Physicians at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical School say a non-contact infrared thermometer, such as the one being used here to check a traveler for fever at the airport, is a poor means of screening for COVID-19 infection.

Press Release:

While a fever is one of the most common symptoms for people who get sick with COVID-19, taking one’s temperature is a poor means of screening who is infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease, and more importantly, who might be contagious. That’s the conclusion of a perspective editorial by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine that describes why temperature screening — primarily done with a non-contact infrared thermometer (NCIT) — doesn’t work as an effective strategy for stemming the spread of COVID-19.

The editorial was published Dec. 14, 2020, in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, the online journal of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The authors are William Wright, D.O., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Philip Mackowiak, M.D., M.B.A., emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Continue reading “Physicians say non-contact infrared thermometers fall short as COVID-19 screeners”

New clinical trial to test whether structured exercise benefits ‘long Covid’ patients

Researchers at the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust in the UK to investigate whether a tailored online exercise and support programme would benefit those experiencing long-term symptoms of Covid-19

Press Release:

  • One of the first clinical trials to investigate treatment for the long-term symptoms of Covid-19 to be led by University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
  • Researchers are to pioneer a tailored and supervised online exercise and support programme for those experiencing what has been dubbed ‘long Covid’
  • Previous research on similar diseases such as SARS has shown some benefit of exercise rehabilitation for patients

Researchers at the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust in the UK are to investigate whether a tailored online exercise and support programme would benefit those experiencing long-term symptoms of Covid-19 – what has been dubbed ‘long Covid’.

Continue reading “New clinical trial to test whether structured exercise benefits ‘long Covid’ patients”