Infection from the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is not mild as generally touted, rather is as deadly as Delta, Alpha and other strains that claimed thousands of lives globally, finds a study.
Omicron was first detected by South African scientists in November last year. It has previously been reported as more transmissible by a number of studies conducted in the UK, South Africa, Canada, and others, but less severe than other SARS-CoV-2 variants.
It was also reported to cause less hospitalisation and death. The highly contagious variant was found to affect the upper airways more than lungs, unlike Delta, causing common cold-like symptoms. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned several times that it should not be taken lightly.
But, the study led by the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that the risks of hospitalisation and mortality were "nearly identical between previous waves of Covid-19".
"Our analysis suggests that the intrinsic severity of the Omicron variant may be as severe as previous variants," the researchers claimed in the pre-print study, meaning not yet peer-reviewed.
Although there were reports noting Omicron's vaccine evading properties, the new study provided evidence that vaccines helped spare people from the worst impacts of Omicron.
In the study, the team linked state-level vaccination data with quality-controlled electronic health records from a large healthcare system, including 13 hospitals, in Massachusetts.
They then performed a weighted case-control study to compare risks of hospital admission and mortality across the SARS-CoV-2 waves in over 130,000 Covid patients.
The unadjusted rates of hospital admission and mortality appeared to be higher in previous waves compared to the Omicron period.
But, our findings suggest that after accounting for confounders, including various demographics, and vaccination status, "the Omicron variant was as deadly as the previous SARS-CoV-2 waves", wrote the researchers, including Zachary H. Strasse from MGH, in the study.
The team also acknowledged limitations in their report, including the possibility that the analysis underestimated the number of vaccinated patients in more recent Covid waves, and the total number of infections, because it excluded patients who performed at-home rapid tests. (Agency)
Read More► Double-Masking Does Not Improve Protection Against Covid: Study
Double-masking might not protect against Covid-19, but rather raises the risk of infection as well as transmission, US researchers have claimed, in a study.
The study published in Physics of Fluids, suggests double masking with improperly fitted masks may "not significantly improve mask efficiency and produces a false sense of security".
"More layers mean a less porous face covering, leading to more flow forced out of the perimeter gaps (sides, top, and bottom) in masks with a less secure fit," argued researchers at Florida State University and Johns Hopkins University.
Double layers increase filtering efficiency only with good mask fit but could also lead to breathing difficulties.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, loosely woven cloth masks offer the least protection against Covid, and N95 and KN95 masks offer the most.
Still, after more than two years since the pandemic began, there is not a full understanding of mask characteristics for the most optimal protection.
In the study, the team used principal component analysis (PCA) along with fluid dynamics simulation models to show the crucial importance of proper fit for all types of masks and how face shape influences the most ideal fit.
The researchers modelled a moderate cough jet from the mouth of an adult male wearing a cloth mask over the nose and mouth with elastic bands wrapped around the ears.
They calculated the maximum volume flow rates through the front of the mask and peripheral gaps at different material porosity levels.
For a more realistic 3D face shape and size, the researchers used PCA that integrated 100 adult male and 100 adult female heads retrieved from head scan data at Basel University in Switzerland. PCA condenses large sets of variables while retaining most of the information.
Their model showed how the slight asymmetry typical in all facial structures can affect proper mask fitting. For example, a mask can have a tighter fit on the left side of the face than on the right side.
"Facial asymmetry is almost imperceivable to the eye but is made obvious by the cough flow through the mask," said co-author Tomas Solano, from Florida State University.
"For this particular case, the only unfiltered leakage observed is through the top. However, for different face shapes, leakage through the bottom and sides of the mask is also possible," he added.
Creating "designer masks" customised to each person's face is not practical at scale. Still, PCA-based simulations can be used to design better masks for different populations by revealing general differences between male and female or child versus elderly facial structures and the associated air flow through masks, the researchers said. (Agency)
Read More► Covid-19 Pandemic Raised Antibiotic-Resistant Infections: Study
Asthma in children is likely to get worse after a Covid-19 infection, finds a large-scale nationwide study in the US.
Six months after a Covid infection, asthmatic children showed significant increases in emergency department visits, hospitalisations, emergency inhaler use, and steroid treatments, compared to children without Covid, researchers reported in a pre-print of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
A team from Children's Hospital of Orange County in California examined 61,916 asthmatic children aged 2-17.9 years who were infected with Covid between March 2020 and February 2021.
"Our data demonstrates that while asthma outcomes were improved for those who tested negative for SARS-COV-2, asthmatic children who were definitively diagnosed with Covid-19 have worse asthma control in the first six months after infection," said Dr. Christine C. Chou from the Hospital's Department of Paediatrics.
On the other hand, children who tested negative for Covid virus had improved asthma control for the next six months, meaning fewer emergency department visits and hospitalisations for asthma, and less asthma treatment, the study showed.
Previous studies hypothesised that there was an overall improvement in asthma control during the last two years of pandemic. Respiratory viral infections are major triggers of asthma exacerbations, including coronaviruses. It was therefore unexpected that asthmatic children have not experienced increased exacerbations during the Covid-19 pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Chou said that it was due to hygiene and public health measures, and/or decreased exposures to particulate matter and viral triggers.
"In fact, we previously found a dramatic reduction in asthma morbidity after mid-March 2020 compared to previous years, plausibly associated with fewer respiratory viral illnesses during stay-at-home measures," Chou said.
"The asthma-triggering effect of SARS-CoV-2 was likely masked by the overall decrease in asthma exacerbations during the stay-at-home measures when other asthma triggers were less present in the community," she noted. (agency)
Read More► New Variant of Corona Detected in Patna
London: Regular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises such as squats, sprints, and pedalling can improve the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by impacting on several metabolic pathways in the body, finds a new study.
A team from the University of Eastern Finland found that regular HIIT exercise over a period of 12 weeks significantly decreased the study participants' fasting glucose and waist circumference, and improved their maximum oxygen consumption rate and maximum achieved workload.
These positive effects were associated with alterations in the abundance of a number of metabolites. In particular, exercise altered amino acid metabolism in adipose tissue, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease, affecting approximately 25 per cent of the world's population. Being largely asymptomatic, the disease may progress from the accumulation of fat in liver cells to liver inflammation and liver cirrhosis.
NAFLD is associated with obesity and other characteristics of the metabolic syndrome, such as Type 2 diabetes and abnormal blood lipid concentrations. The accumulation of fat in the liver can be reduced by weight loss and a health-promoting diet.
Exercise is an integral part of the treatment of NAFLD. The benefits of exercise may relate not only to weight management, but also to alterations in the metabolites produced by the body and gut microbes, whose role in fatty liver disease remains poorly understood.
The study involved 46 subjects diagnosed with NAFLD, who were divided into an exercise intervention group that had a HIIT session twice a week, plus an independent training session once a week for 12 weeks, and into a control group that did not increase exercise during the study.
The most significant alterations were observed in amino acids and their derivatives, lipids, and bile acids.
The levels of various gut microbial metabolites were also altered as a result of exercise, which is suggestive of changes in the composition of gut microbes, or in their function.
Among these metabolites, an increased amount of indolelactic acid, for example, can strengthen the intestinal mucosa, immune defence, and glucose balance.
Based on the findings, exercise can have a beneficial effect on many factors contributing to disease in patients with NAFLD, even without weight loss and dietary changes, the researchers said. Adipose tissue seems to play a key role in these effects. (Agency)
Read More► Do You Suffer From Obsessive Health Consciousness?
जेनेवा: विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन (डब्ल्यूएचओ) ने चेतावनी दी है कि भले ही वैश्विक स्तर पर कोविड-19 के मामलों और मौतों की संख्या में गिरावट जारी है, लेकिन महामारी अभी खत्म नहीं हुई है। कोविड-19 के मामलों में कमी का कारण बड़े पैमाने पर परीक्षण दरों (टेस्टिंग रेट्स) में गिरावट भी बताया जा रहा है।
डब्ल्यूएचओ के महानिदेशक ट्रेडोस एडनॉम घेब्येयिसस ने मंगलवार को एक प्रेस वार्ता में बताया कि पिछले हफ्ते, डब्ल्यूएचओ को सिर्फ 15,000 से अधिक कोरोना वायरस से संबंधित मौतों की सूचना मिली है, जो मार्च 2020 के बाद से सबसे कम साप्ताहिक संख्या है।
उन्होंने कहा कि हालांकि इस उत्साहजनक प्रवृत्ति की सावधानी से व्याख्या की जानी चाहिए, क्योंकि कई देशों ने टेस्टिंग पर वापस कदम रखा है और इसके परिणामस्वरूप डब्ल्यूएचओ को ट्रांसमिशन और सीक्वेंसिंग के बारे में कम जानकारी मिल रही है।
ट्रेडोस ने कहा कि यह हमें संचरण और इसके फैलाव (ट्रांसमिशन एंड एवोलूशन) के पैटर्न के प्रति अंधा बना देता है, लेकिन यह वायरस सिर्फ इसलिए नहीं जाएगा, क्योंकि देशों ने इसकी तलाश करना बंद कर दिया है। यह अभी भी फैल रहा है, यह अभी भी बदल रहा है और यह अभी भी जान ले रहा है।
उन्होंने चेताते हुए कहा कि जब एक घातक वायरस की बात आती है, तो अज्ञानता सही नहीं है। डब्ल्यूएचओ सभी देशों से निगरानी बनाए रखने का आह्वान करता रहता है।
कोविड-19 महामारी के एक नए आपातकाल के बाद के चरण में प्रवेश करने के यूरोपीय संघ के हालिया फैसले पर प्रतिक्रिया देते हुए, डब्ल्यूएचओ स्वास्थ्य आपात कार्यक्रम के कार्यकारी निदेशक, माइक रयान ने आगाह किया कि यह समय वायरस पर से ध्यान हटाने का नहीं है और न ही इसके विकसित होने की क्षमता को हल्के में लिया जाना चाहिए।
उन्होंने चिंता जताते हुए कहा कि तथ्य यह है कि हम अभी तक इससे बाहर नहीं निकले हैं।
समाचार एजेंसी सिन्हुआ की रिपोर्ट के अनुसार, डब्ल्यूएचओ के हेल्थ इमर्जेंसी प्रोग्राम की टेक्निकल लीड मारिया वैन केरखोव ने कहा कि हाल के पॉजिटिव मामलों में रुझानों के बावजूद, उन्हें टेस्टिंग से जुड़ी रणनीतियों में बड़े पैमाने पर बदलाव और दुनिया भर में किए जा रहे परीक्षणों की संख्या में भारी कमी के कारण विश्व भर में रिपोर्ट किए जा रहे मामलों की संख्या में कम ही विश्वास है।
उन्होंने कहा, सकारात्मक पक्ष की बात की जाए तो हम एक बदलाव जरूर देख रहे हैं। हम निश्चित रूप से इस महामारी के एक अलग चरण में हैं, लेकिन हम अभी भी इस महामारी के बीच ही हैं और यह अभी भी एक वैश्विक समस्या बनी हुई है।
उन्होंने निष्कर्ष निकालते हुए कहा कि अब समय आ गया है कि हमने जो किया है उसे वास्तव में मजबूत करें और यह सुनिश्चित करें कि हम लोगों को सलामत रखें और हम अपनी अर्थव्यवस्थाओं को पटरी पर लाएं और हम लोगों की आजीविका बचाएं। (एजेंसी)
यह भी पढ़े► दमे की दवा कोरोना वायरस के स्पाइक प्रोटीन को रोकने में सक्षम
New York: People hospitalised during the pandemic both for Covid and other conditions have a higher rate of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections compared to patients hospitalised before the pandemic, according to a study.
An estimated 1.2 million people worldwide died in 2019 from antibiotic-resistant infections, and this number is predicted to increase ten-fold by 2050.
There have been studies reporting that the pandemic was associated with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) secondary infections, possibly due to the increase in the use of antibiotics to treat Covid-19 patients and disruptions to infection prevention and control practices in overwhelmed health systems.
The study, presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) being held in Portugal, evaluated the pandemic's impact on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 271 hospitals across the US.
The researchers assessed AMR rates per 100 hospital admissions before and during the Covid pandemic, and examined whether drug-resistant infections were acquired in the community-onset setting (defined as a culture collected less than two days after admission) or in the hospital-onset setting (more than two days after admission).
In total, 1,789,458 patients were admitted to the hospital in the pre-pandemic period and 3,729,208 during the pandemic.
The number of patients admitted to the hospital with at least one AMR infection was 63,263 in the pre-pandemic period and 129,410 during the pandemic.
Patients who tested positive or negative for Covid had higher levels of AMR than patients before the pandemic, 4.92 per 100 admissions and 4.11 per 100 admissions, respectively.
For hospital-associated infections, the AMR rate was 0.77 per 100 admissions before the pandemic and 0.86 per 100 admissions during the pandemic, and highest at 2.19 per 100 admissions in patients with Covid-19.
When looking at community-onset infections, the AMR rate was 2.76 per 100 admissions in the pre-pandemic period, and 2.61 per 100 admissions during the pandemic.
"These new data highlight the importance of closely monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on antimicrobial resistance rates, said Dr Karri Bauer from the US pharmaceutical company Merck.
"It is particularly worrying that antibiotic resistance has been rising during the pandemic in both SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative patients. Hospital-acquired infections are a major concern, with antimicrobial resistance rates significantly higher during the pandemic than before," he added. (Agency)
Read More► Omicron Ups Risk of Upper Airway Infections, Cardiac Arrest in Small Kids
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