Jakarta, July 26 (IANS) Covid-19 has led to the death of hundreds of children in Indonesia, many of them younger than age 5, asserting the fact that children are no longer 'hidden victims', the media reported.Indonesia has a child mortality rate due to Covid greater than that of any other country, The New York Times reported. More than 150 children died from Covid-19 during the week of July 12 alone, with half the recent deaths involving those younger than age 5, Dr. Aman Bhakti Pulungan, head of the Indonesian Pediatric Society, was quoted as saying.Children make up 12.5 per cent of the country's confirmed cases, an increase over previous months, said Pulungan, citing reports from pediatricians. "Our numbers are the highest in the world. Why are we not giving the best for our children?" he said.The rise in deaths coincides with the surge of the delta variant, which has swept through Southeast Asia, where vaccination rates are low, causing record outbreaks not only in Indonesia but also in Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam as well, The NYT reported.In July, Indonesia overtook India and Brazil in the number of daily cases, becoming the new epicentre of the pandemic. The government on Friday reported nearly 50,000 new infections and 1,566 deaths.According to Pulungan, over 800 children younger than 18 have died from the virus in Indonesia since the pandemic began, but the majority of those deaths have occurred only in the past month."Until now, children have been the hidden victims of this pandemic," said Dr. Yasir Arafat, Asia health adviser to the nonprofit group Save the Children. "Not anymore.""Not only are countries like Indonesia seeing record numbers of children dying from the virus," Yasir said, "but we're also seeing an alarming rise in children missing out on routine vaccinations and nutrition services that are critical for their survival, which should ring major alarm bells."The high number of deaths among children could be because of underlying health conditions such as malnutrition, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, health experts were quoted as saying.The country's low vaccination rate is another factor. Just 16 per cent of Indonesians have received one dose, and only 6 per cent have been fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. --IANSrvt/dpb
With hectic lifestyles, meeting deadlines, erratic work hours, nutrition intake is severely impacted. Hence, lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension etc are on the rise and it's time to face some hard facts, says an Indian nutrition expert.
The latest survey by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) to ascertain the levels of protein deficiency and awareness about protein in India showed 73 per cent of urban rich are protein deficient with 93 per cent of them unaware about their daily protein requirements. In fact, despite the urban populace eating poultry products as a source of animal protein, India's consumption of poultry meat products remains one of the lowest in the world at less than 4 kg per capita for poultry while other developed countries have a per capita consumption of as much as 40 kg.
To create awareness about the need to incorporate the essential component of protein in our diets, Protein Week is celebrated from July 24-30 each year.
Detailing the importance of including protein in one's diet, leading nutritionist Ritika Samaddar shares, "As a building block of life, protein is present in every cell of the body. Protein is crucial for growth and development and to fight against diseases. The RDA for protein for an average Indian Adult is 0.8-1.0g per kg body weight, which is around 50-60 g of protein per day for the healthy adult population. There is a need to create awareness on the importance of protein on our health, how much to take and the sources of protein in our diet. India is a crab loving country. We as a nation consume excess starch and fat and grossly inadequate in proteins and there are multiple reasons for this."
Debunking the common myths around protein consumption, Samaddar said, "Firstly the common perception is that "protein is difficult to digest", "leads to weight gain" and "protein is only for bodybuilders"."
So how do we make sure that we get adequate proteins in our diet? Protein is of two types complete and incomplete, which is determined by the composition of amino acids. Complete proteins are found in poultry, egg, milk, fish etc. Complete protein sources like chicken, turkey, duck and egg are high in quantity and quality and 100 per cent digested. Eggs and poultry, besides being an excellent source of protein, are also loaded with micronutrients like vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Iron, Selenium.
"One egg gives around 7 g of protein, whereas 100g of chicken, duck or turkey is around 20-21g. So the focus should be not just on the quantity but also on the quality of protein one takes. Eating high-quality protein like egg and poultry increases metabolism, improves satiety and keeps energy levels high. Inadequate intake of protein leads to weakness and fatigue and delays wound healing and over a long period of time can precipitate into lifestyle diseases like central adiposity, diabetes and high triglyceride levels, besides malnutrition."
Recommending a guideline on protein intake, Samaddar added, "To have adequate protein in one's diet, including a source of protein in every meal. Start your day with a healthy breakfast and include an egg daily or milk. Meals should include some protein food like chicken or lentils. Also snack on protein-rich foods like nuts, sprouts or eggs. In this pandemic too the nutrient most talked about and of utmost importance is protein. Protein is required to build immunity and also fight the disease. Post recovery too, increasing intake of protein is important to rebuild muscle loss, immunity and energy levels."
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New York, July 22 (IANS) Adults and children with Covid-19 who have a history of malnutrition may have an increased likelihood of death and the need for mechanical ventilation, according to a study.
Malnutrition hampers the proper functioning of the immune system and is known to increase the risk of severe infections for other viruses, but the potential long-term effects of malnutrition on Covid-19 outcomes are less clear, said Louis Ehwerhemuepha from Children's Hospital of Orange County in California, US.
Children older than five and adults aged 18 to 78 years with previous diagnoses of malnutrition were found to have higher odds of severe Covid-19 than those with no history of malnutrition in the same age groups.
Children younger than five and adults aged 79 or above were found to have higher odds of severe Covid-19 if they were not malnourished compared to those of the same age who were malnourished. In children, this may be due to having less medical data for those under five, according to the researchers.
The risk of severe Covid-19 in adults with and without malnutrition continued to rise with age above 79 years. The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Malnutrition, as a global health problem for both the pediatric and adult population, will continue to overlap with the Covid-19 pandemic that has already affected millions worldwide, Ehwerhemuepha said.
The researchers suggest that public health interventions for those at highest risk of malnutrition may help mitigate the higher likelihood of severe Covid-19 in this group.
For the study, the team investigated associations between malnutrition diagnoses and subsequent Covid-19 severity, using medical records for 8,604 children and 94,495 adults (older than 18 years) who were hospitalised with Covid-19 in the US between March and June 2020. Patients with a diagnosis of malnutrition between 2015 and 2019 were compared to patients without.
Of 520 (6 per cent) children with severe Covid-19, 39 (7.5 per cent) had a previous diagnosis of malnutrition, compared to 125 (1.5 per cent) of 7,959 (98.45 per cent) children with mild Covid-19. Of 11,423 (11 per cent) adults with severe Covid-19, 453 (4 per cent) had a previous diagnosis of malnutrition, compared to 1,557 (1.8 per cent) of 81,515 (98.13 per cent) adults with mild Covid-19.
New York, July 20 (IANS) US researchers have discovered a functional autoantibody in Covid-19 patients that contributes to the disease's development and the "firestorm" of blood clots and inflammation it induces.
A growing body of studies suggests Covid-19 emulates many aspects of systemic auto-immune disorders, including the release of a flurry of overactive immune cells that produce toxic webs of proteins and DNA called neutrophil extracellular traps, or NETs.
For this study, the team analysed serum from over 300 hospitalised Covid patients, searching for a novel autoantibody that shields the toxic NETs from being destroyed and produces a lasting noxious effect in a patient's body.
The results, published in JCI Insight, reveal markedly elevated levels of the anti-NET antibodies in many of the participants. Those with higher levels of the auto-antibodies were more likely to develop severe Covid-19 symptoms.
"We see a slew of different antibodies produced in Covid-19 patients, and now we discovered another clinically significant one that is likely contributing to severe Covid," said lead author Yu (Ray) Zuo, a rheumatologist at Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan.
"They feed into the inflammatory storm that we're seeing in the most serious cases of viral infection," Zuo added.
Researchers generated NETs in the lab and incubated them with Covid patient serum. They found the serum from patients with higher levels of anti-NET antibodies struggled to degrade the toxic traps.
The team also spiked healthy serum with anti-NETs purified from the infected patients. While a healthy person's serum should completely disintegrate the extracellular traps, the purified anti-NET antibodies significantly hindered the process.
"We knew that people with severe forms of Covid have higher amounts of these neutrophil extracellular traps, which amplify inflammation and promote blood clot formation," said Jason Knight, Associate Professor of rheumatology at Michigan Medicine.
"We've now found that this process is exacerbated by the anti-NET antibodies, which disrupt our body's immune homeostasis during Covid-19 infection," Knight said.
However, how Covid-19 manages to trigger the production of a variety of autoantibodies, including anti-NETs, remains unknown.
Further study of the virus' autoimmune aspects, Zuo noted, will not only lead to better understanding of the disease, but will also likely shed light onto the origins of autoimmune diseases.
London, July 19 (IANS) Markers in our blood -- fingerprints of infection -- could help identify individuals who have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, several months after infection, even if the individual had only mild symptoms or showed no symptoms at all, say researchers.A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has received 370,000 pounds from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to develop a Covid-19 diagnostic test that would complement existing antibody tests and will objectively diagnose and monitor long Covid.Using the funding, the team developed a pilot project. They recruited 85 patients and collected blood samples from patients when they were first diagnosed and then followed up over several months. The team now hopes to expand their cohort to 500 patients.In their initial findings, the team identified a biomarker -- a biological fingerprint -- in the blood of patients who had previously had Covid-19. This biomarker is a molecule known as a cytokine produced by T cells in response to infection. As with antibodies, this biomarker persists in the blood for a long time after infection. "We need a reliable and objective way of saying whether someone has had Covid-19. Antibodies are one sign we look for, but not everyone makes a very strong response and this can wane over time and become undetectable," said Dr Mark Wills, from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge."We've identified a cytokine that is also produced in response to infection by T cells and is likely to be detectable for several months -- and potentially years -- following infection. We believe this will help us develop a much more reliable diagnostic for those individuals who did not get a diagnosis at the time of infection," Wills added.By following patients for up to 18 months post-infection, the team hopes to address several questions, including whether immunity wanes over time.As part of their pilot study, the team also identified a particular biomarker found in patients with long Covid. Their work suggests these patients produce a second type of cytokine, which persists in patients with long Covid compared to those that recover quickly and might be one of the drivers behind the many symptoms that patients experience. This might therefore prove to be useful for diagnosing long Covid.The team plans to publish their results shortly.--IANSrvt/vd
London, July 14 (IANS) A team of researchers has developed a blood test that could be a simple and effective method for monitoring the infection caused by SARS-CoV-2, the virus leading to Covid-19.The test, developed by researchers at the UMH-CSIC Neurosciences Institute in Alicante, Spain, quantifies the protein ACE2 -- the cellular protein which allows entry of the coronavirus into cells -- as well as ACE2 fragments -- produced as a result of interaction with the virus.The study, published in FASEB Journal, found that patients with Covid-19, in the acute phase of infection, have significantly reduced plasma levels of the full-length ACE2 protein, which SARS-CoV-2 binds to enter cells, compared to non-infected controls.In addition, the plasma levels of a lower molecular mass ACE2 fragment, generated as a result of interaction with the virus, are increased.These abnormal levels of ACE2 and truncated ACE2 return to normal after the patients' recovery. This suggests that both forms of ACE2 present in plasma could be used as a good biomarker of the evolution of coronavirus infection."In this work, we have studied the plasma levels of the coronavirus receptor, the ACE2 protein, and we have been able to determine that there are different forms of the protein in plasma, and that part of the soluble ACE2 are proteolytic fragments of the ACE2 receptor, generated subsequently to interaction with the virus. The full-length protein is also found in plasma, which provides information about tissue affection during infection," explained lead researcher Javier Saez-Valero from the Institute.The team included 59 patients with a positive reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal swabs, of whom 24 were women and 35 men, with a mean age of 64 years.Two additional groups were also analysed -- one of 17 participants, which included people aged 34 to 85 years with influenza A virus pneumonia. The other group consisted of 26 disease-free controls aged 34-85 years.Changes in truncated and full-length ACE2 species were also examined in serum samples from humanised K18-hACE2 mice inoculated with a lethal dose of SARS-CoV-2. These humanised mice carry the human gene that produces the ACE2 protein, allowing SARS-CoV-2 infection, which does not occur naturally due to lack of recognition of murine ACE2 by the virus.--IANSrvt/arm