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The puzzling questions of the coronavirus: A doctor addresses 6 questions that are stumping physicians

 Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

As researchers try to find treatments and create a vaccine for COVID-19, doctors and others on the front lines continue to find perplexing symptoms. And the disease itself has unpredictable effects on various people. Dr. William Petri, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia Medical School, answers questions about these confusing findings.

Some evidence suggests that patients experience low oxygen saturation days before they appear in the ER. If so, is there a way to treat patients earlier?

Should people take vitamin D to ward off the new coronavirus?

Vitamin D deficiency

A preliminary, unpublished study speculates that vitamin D deficiency may have something to do with poor COVID-19 outcomes. Its authors suggest people may benefit from ensuring they are getting enough vitamin D. However, there are serious concerns about the research.

Vitamin D is one of the nutrients that are crucial to human health, on the whole.

The human body naturally synthesizes this vitamin — in fact, a group of substances — through adequate exposure to sunlight.

Latest evidence on obesity and COVID-19

obesity

A summary of the evidence so far suggests that obesity is associated with a higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), independent of other illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease.

Early data seems to suggest that people with obesity are more likely to become severely ill due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

An increasing number of reports have linked obesity to coronavirus mortality, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now list severe obesity as a risk factor for severe COVID-19. The CDC define severe obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above.

Remdesivir explained – what makes this drug work against viruses?

Remdesivir

With the FDA approving Gilead’s Remdesivir as an emergency use treatment for the most acute cases of COVID-19, many people are wondering what type of a drug it is.

Remdesivir is a member of one of the oldest and most important classes of drugs – known as nucleoside analogue. Currently there are more than 30 of these types of drugs that have been approved for use in treating viruses, cancers, parasites, as well as bacterial and fungal infections, with many more currently in clinical and preclinical trials.

Human Challenge Trial Controversy Heats up

Covid-19 vaccine human challenge trials

The WHO will issue ethical guidelines to inform human challenge trials, South China Morning Post reports, amid aggressive efforts to find a COVID-19 vaccine.

Deliberately infecting healthy human volunteers with a virus to test vaccine candidates can speed the vaccine timeline—but it’s a dangerous tack for a disease with no cure.

With COVID-19, however, proponents argue that the risk of serious illness or death is small in likely recruits—young adults.

The mysterious disappearance of the first SARS virus, and why we need a vaccine for the current one but didn’t for the other

anti-SARS outfits

Some people question why the current coronavirus has brought the world to standstill while a previous deadly coronavirus, SARS, did not.

Others have questioned why a vaccine is so urgently needed now to stop the spread of the current coronavirus when a vaccine was never developed for SARS.

I study viruses and am so fascinated by their complexity that I have written a book about them. The tale of SARS and its new cousin that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, shows just how unpredictable viruses can be, particularly when they jump from animals to humans. Understanding emerging, infectious diseases needs to be a priority. SARS, which killed about one in 10 infected people, turned out to be highly lethal but ultimately, and somewhat mysteriously, disappeared.

No link between hypertension drugs and COVID-19 risk, study rules

takeing drug

On March 17, 2020, the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) issued a joint statement urging researchers to address certain gaps in our understanding of COVID-19 risk.

More specifically, the ACC, AHA, and HFSA pointed out a need to clarify whether or not people who have taken antihypertensive medication — that is, the drugs that help lower blood pressure — are at higher risk of developing COVID-19 or experiencing a severe form of the disease.

A majority of vaccine skeptics plan to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine, a study suggests, and that could be a big problem

Dr. Anthony Fauci

The availability of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will likely play a key role in determining when Americans can return to life as usual. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on April 30 announced that a vaccine could even be available by January 2021.

Whether a vaccine can end this pandemic successfully, however, depends on more than its effectiveness at providing immunity against the virus, or how quickly it can be produced in mass quantities. Americans also must choose to receive the vaccine.

New drug candidate against the novel coronavirus

COVID-19 treatment

A team of scientists from China has found a new candidate drug against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which works by inhibiting a key part of the virus’s machinery.

Much of the world is on hold until scientists find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, which has, so far, claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

However, with current estimates suggesting that a vaccine is 12–18 months away, many people are placing increasing hope on an effective treatment for COVID-19.

What the Spanish flu can teach us about making face masks compulsory

Red Cross nurses in San Francisco, 1918.

Should people be forced to wear face masks in public? That’s the question facing governments as more countries unwind their lockdowns. Over 30 countries have made masks compulsory in public, including Germany, Austria and Poland. This is despite the science saying masks do little to protect wearers, and only might prevent them from infecting other people.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, has nonetheless announced new guidelines advising Scots to wear masks for shopping or on public transport, while the UK government is expected to announce a new stance shortly. Meanwhile, US vice president Mike Pence has controversially refused to mask up.

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