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of the Omicron variant may be as severe as previous variants," the researchers claimed in the pre-print study, meaning not yet peer-reviewed.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
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
Six in 10 people with SARS-CoV-2 still have at least one symptom of long Covid a year later, with fatigue, shortness of breath and irritability being the most common, a new study has shown.
The study, being presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Portugal, found that Covid-19 symptoms that don't clear up after 15 weeks are likely to last at least a year.
An estimated 25-40 per cent of people with Covid-19 develop long Covid, persisting symptoms that can affect multiple organs and include mental health problems.
Most of the data to date, however, is based on patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19 and it isn't clear how it applies to Covid-19 cases more generally.
To find out more, Aurelie Fischer and colleagues at the Luxembourg Institute of Health in Luxembourg, surveyed almost 300 people a year after they were diagnosed with Covid.
The 289 participants (50.2 per cent women) had an average age of 40.2 years and were divided in three groups, based on the severity of their initial infection: asymptomatic, mild and moderate/severe Covid-19.
They were asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire about whether they were experiencing 64 common long Covid-related symptoms.
A third (34.3 per cent) were experiencing fatigue a year on, 12.9 per cent said respiratory symptoms were affecting their quality of life and more than half (54.2 per cent) had ongoing sleep problems.
Participants who had moderate/severe Covid-19 were twice as likely to still have at least one symptom a year on than those whose initial infection was asymptomatic. Having had moderate/severe Covid-19 was also associated with more sleep problems after a year than being asymptomatic (63.8 per cent vs. 38.6 per cent).
"Participants with a mild form of the acute illness were more likely than those who'd been asymptomatic to have at least one symptom at one year, and to have sleep problems, but to a lesser extent than those with a moderate or severe acute illness," Fischer said.
One in seven participants (14.2 per cent) said they could not envisage coping with their symptoms long-term.
Further, the analysis also revealed that some groups of symptoms tend to occur together, suggesting that there are multiple different types of long Covid.
Read More► Covid Not Only Infects Human Retina, But Can Also Replicate in It
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