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Scientists Create Antibody That Defeats Coronavirus in Lab

The discovery of an antibody that has the ability to defeat coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been hailed as “groundbreaking”.

Scientists from Dutch institutions Utrecht University, Erasmus Medical Center and Harbour BioMed made the discovery, which was made public in a study published in scientific journal Nature Communications on Monday.

The study found that the ‘neutralising monoclonal antibody’ known as 47D11 has been found to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering cultured cells.

While that’s early in the drug development process — before animal research and human trials — the antibody may help prevent or treat Covid-19 and related diseases in the future, either alone or in a drug combination, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

 

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Most therapeutic antibodies are developed first in other species, and require extensive additional work to ‘humanise’ them, Utrecht University explains – but 47D11 bucks that trend.

Dr Frank Grosveld, chief scientific officer at Harbour BioMed and the study’s co-lead author, says 47D11’s ‘fully human’ make-up has a range of benefits in the creation of a COVID-19 treatment.

The antibody used in this work is ‘fully human’, allowing development to proceed more rapidly and reducing the potential for immune-related side effects,” he said.

Such a neutralising antibody has potential to alter the course of infection in the infected host, support virus clearance or protect an uninfected individual that is exposed to the virus.

This discovery provides a strong foundation for additional research to characterise this antibody and begin development as a potential COVID-19 treatment.”

In lab tests, 47D11 was also found to be effective at blocking infection from SARS-CoV, the virus that causes SARS – a sign it could be used to treat a range of viral illnesses.

This cross-neutralising feature of the antibody is very interesting, and suggests it may have potential in mitigation of diseases caused by future-emerging related coronaviruses,”  co-lead author Dr Berend-Jan Bosch says.

Dr Jingsong Wang, CEO of Harbour BioMed, labelled the discovery of 47D11 “groundbreaking”.

He says the team is now “pursuing several other research avenues” in an effort to address the “urgent public health need” brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coronavirus is a global pandemic that has infected 3.6 million people and resulted in the deaths of more than 251,000.

As of last week, there were seven candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation and 82 in pre-clinical evaluation around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

It’s estimated that it will take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be rolled out worldwide.

Source: Bloomberg, Hub

Vietnam tests Covid-19 vaccine on mice

A potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Vietnam and the U.K. is being tested on mice for two weeks before further evaluation.

The Covid-19 vaccine was developed after scientists successfully generated the novel coronavirus antigen in the lab, said Dr. Do Tuan Dat, President of the Company for Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 (VABIOTECH) in Hanoi. Antigen units are the most important ingredient in vaccine production, helping the body process antigens.

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Dr. Dat said the vaccine will be tested further in animals and evaluated for safety and effectiveness before a manufacturing process is embarked on.

The vaccine has been developed by collaborating scientists at VABIOTECH and the U.K.’s Bristol University.

A vaccine is said to be the most effective way to fight against a viral disease. Produced from weakened virus or a protein or other small “pieces” taken from it, a vaccine trains the body’s immune system to fight the disease it has not come into contact with before.

After testing the VABIOTECH vaccine in mice for two weeks, scientists will conduct blood tests on the animal, sending samples to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

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According to the institute, it will take at least 12-18 months to develop Covid-19 vaccine that can work safely on human.

There are currently no approved vaccines or medication for the Covid-19, which has killed nearly 245,000 people worldwide and infected almost 3.5 million.

Around 150 Covid-19 vaccine development projects are being conducted worldwide.

Human trials are underway at Oxford University in England for a coronavirus vaccine made from a chimpanzee virus, and in the U.S. for a different vaccine. In China, a firm is said to be ready for testing and mass production.

6 Tips for Better Sleep During The COVID-19 Pandemic

A good night’s sleep is paramount for the health of your brain and body. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, sowing anxiety and worry along with it, getting a healthy amount of quality sleep probably isn’t as easy as it used to be. And getting good sleep is more important now than ever.

If we’re not sleeping we can reduce our immune system, we can increase inflammation in the body, which we know can then lead to being more vulnerable to various viruses or whatever might be in our environment. In other words, your quality of sleep plays a direct role in your body’s ability to keep you safe from the novel coronavirus.

So, in addition to all the recommended hygiene behaviors to ward off the disease, like handwashing and social distancing, consider your own sleep health as another way to stay protected. Here are a few helpful tips to help wind down and get a good night’s rest, even during these stressful and uncertain times.

1. Maintain a regular routine

Many people have had their daily lives totally upended as a direct result of this pandemic. Some have been laid off. Some are adjusting to working from home. Others are now juggling work and family as they look after children who are now out of school for the remainder of the school year.

No matter how your life has been affected, it’s of the utmost importance to keep a regular routine in order to get good sleep.

If you’re working from home, get up at the same time and get dressed. You might just be going to the next room or working from your bedroom, but just have that same sense of routine and normalcy, which will help you feel less disrupted.

2. Don’t nap excessively

If you’ve found yourself in a self-quarantine or work-from-home situation due to the pandemic, the bedroom or couch might end up calling — a little too frequently.

Adding to the importance of establishing a routine for yourself, make sure you’re not napping excessively, as this can even make you sleepier during the day, potentially altering or disrupting a regular sleep routine.

Having a normal sleep routine should help to “anchor your entire day,” said LeMonda. Instead of napping, use that healthy routine to get up early and start getting things done.

3. Get some exercise (just not before bed)

Yes, your gym is probably closed, but exercise should still be part of your daily life. Daily exercise is still just as important, especially for sleep. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders may have you feeling that your options are more limited, but there are a number of ways you can effectively exercise without leaving your home.

Getting exercise during the day is really important,” said LeMonda, “We know that that’s tied to improved sleep for pathophysiological reasons: We will feel more tired if we’ve exerted ourselves. We will also feel more accomplished that day as well, so there will be a sense of achievement before bed.” 

Just don’t exercise within a few hours of bedtime because the stimulation of physical exertion can make it harder to get to sleep.

4. Structure your news intake

It’s nearly impossible to escape the constant distressing flow of COVID-19 news and information that permeates daily life right now. And yes, constantly consuming a 24/7 pandemic news cycle is likely to ratchet up your anxiety and affect your sleep.

Whenever we go to the news, it’s always about the novel coronavirus and it’s quite upsetting. It’s reality, but it’s also something that can increase our anxiety. I would say schedule and structure the times when you check your phone for news updates,” said Singh.

Be diligent in limiting how many times per day you check your phone, and for how long, to read news related to the pandemic. Singh also recommends treating the news similar to how you might caffeine: don’t consume it before bed.

5. Limit blue light exposure near bedtime

The internet has proved to be an invaluable tool for communication and entertainment during a time in which people across the world have been mandated to self-quarantine or shelter in place. However, staring at a screen all day is not helpful when you’re trying to fall asleep. 

We do recommend that within the hour prior to sleep that the person tries to unplug and not really be watching TV, not being on their phone, and certainly not watching anything that could be anxiety-provoking,” said LeMonda.

Instead, she recommends activities like reading a book or listening to music as means of entertainment before bed.

6. Avoid drinking excessive alcohol

We might feel like if we drink we’ll feel better in the moment and feel like we’re passing out, we actually don’t get good, restful sleep,” said LeMonda. “It’s not going to be that restful sleep where you wake up and feel like you can take on the day.”

Alcohol also isn’t a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with stress and anxiety either. The one-two punch of alcohol and poor sleep can have a real effect on diminishing the immune system.

Source: Healthline

Drinking alcohol can make the coronavirus worse, the WHO said

The WHO said alcohol consumption is associated with a number of communicable and noncommunicable diseases that can make a person more vulnerable to catching Covid-19.

Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of catching Covid-19 and make it worse if you do get it, the World Health Organization said, recommending that government leaders around the world limit access to alcohol during coronavirus lockdowns.

Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” the WHO’s regional office for Europe said on its site late Tuesday, citing heavy alcohol use throughout the continent.

Alcohol consumption is associated with a number of communicable and noncommunicable diseases that can make a person more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. It can also exacerbate mental health issues and risk-taking behavior and stoke violence, especially in countries that have implemented social distancing measures that largely keep the population quarantined in their homes.

The WHO also published a fact sheet dispelling the “dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill” the coronavirus.

drinking alcohol make covid-19 worse WHO medihome

It does not,” the WHO said, adding that it could result in serious health issues, including death, especially if it’s adulterated with methanol. About 3 million deaths a year are attributable to alcohol without a pandemic driving up consumption.

Therefore, people should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the office said.

Americans are nonetheless stocking up. Alcohol sales at U.S. liquor and grocery stores were up 22% for the week ending March 28 compared with the same time last year, according to data compiled by Nielsen. And more Americans are drinking at home, according to financial services company Rabobank, as the market for on-site dining and drinking stands to miss out on $15 billion in alcohol sales over the next two months.

As millions around the world stay home to curb the spread of Covid-19, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the WHO’s parent organization, warned earlier this month that the world is witnessing a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence.” He said the social and economic stress of the outbreak as well as restrictions on movement have all contributed to the surge in abuse.

Source: CNBC

How to Use Telehealth Services During the COVID-19 Outbreak and Beyond

Telehealth facilitates offer care from a distance through electronic information systems, specially during Covid-19 outbreak. Today, almost anyone with a smartphone or laptop computer can access telehealth services.

Telemedicine originally delivered care through the telephone system, such as a Dial-a-Nurse line. Today, telehealth encompasses a broad range of electronic delivery systems that include live video chats, mobile health (also called mhealth) apps, online visits, and secure messaging via text or email.

During the current COVID-19 outbreak, many healthcare providers are discouraging people from traveling to a medical office or urgent care facility unless absolutely necessary, since the novel coronavirus transfers easily from person to person. For mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 or any illness, telehealth services might represent a better, more efficient way to receive initial care.

When Should You Consider Using Telehealth?

Many less-severe symptoms in adults and children—whether related to COVID-19 or not—can be effectively assessed through an initial telehealth visit. These symptoms and conditions include:

  • Canker sores, cold sores, and other mouth lesions
  • Chickenpox (varicella zoster virus)
  • Conjunctivitis (“pink eye”)
  • Common cold, flu, and allergy symptoms
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Headaches, including migraine
  • Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Insect bites
  • Minor injuries, such as sprains
  • Painful urination
  • Rashes and other skin conditions
  • Sinus pain and pressure
  • Sore throat

Sometimes the healthcare professional conducting the virtual visit can diagnose and treat the condition based on their interview with you and the visual signs of your illness. Many times, however, a virtual visit becomes a triage tool that enables the healthcare provider to direct you to a particular course of action:

  • Come into the office
  • Head to an urgent care center
  • Go to an emergency room
  • Proceed to an outpatient X-ray facility or laboratory

When it comes to COVID-19, telehealth offers a way for your doctor to evaluate your symptoms without potentially exposing a waiting room full of people to the virus. If your practitioner suspects you may be infected with the novel coronavirus, he or she can direct you to a testing facility and provide instructions for follow-up care.

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Specific to COVID-19, people in a high-risk group (immunocompromised, elderly, or pregnant) should skip the virtual visit and phone their doctor’s office for instructions on how to proceed if they develop a fever, cough, and shortness of breath—the three classic signs of an infection with COVID-19.

Even people considered low-risk should call for emergency medical assistance if they believe they might be infected with the novel coronavirus and also exhibit these additional symptoms:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Confusion, delirium, or difficulty arousing the person from sleep
  • Severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Turning blue around the lips

Beyond COVID-19, any person experiencing serious or potentially life-threatening symptoms should call 911 for emergency medical assistance rather than try to utilize telehealth. A few such signs and symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or other signs of a heart attack
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • One-sided weakness, facial drooping, or other signs of stroke
  • Suspected broken bones
  • Unexplained change in mental status, such as fainting or becoming delirious

Feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty are normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth can also provide the ability to help you care for your mental health while at home. Learn about the best online therapy options available to you.

Can Prescriptions Be Refilled by Telehealth?

Depending on the situation and state prescribing laws, a healthcare provider may be able to issue new prescriptions or refill existing ones during a virtual visit. Not all types of drugs will be eligible for this service, even if your provider offers it.

How to use Telehealth service in Vietnam

Although the COVID-19 outbreak may be driving the mass adoption of telehealth and virtual visits today, the accessibility of telemedicine makes it a convenient option to use all the time for mild to moderate symptoms. Why take a half-day off work to drive to a doctor’s clinic and sit in a waiting room full of sniffling patients when you can simply dial up a doctor on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to receive care in the comfort of your own home or office?

Because of its convenience, accessibility, and—for many people—affordability, telehealth may well represent the future of healthcare delivery for adults and children in the post-coronavirus world.

Medihome is one of the best-known telehealth providers that allows patients to receive medical advice and instructions at home by providing them with a platform to connect with real doctors.

Users can make health-related inquiries, look up medications, and search for the nearest clinics and pharmacies at the comfort of their own home. Apart from typed-in questions, Medihome also allows users to contact available doctors via phone calls for a better diagnosis of their condition.

Medihome offers live video visits and medical aid in most common medicine subspecialties, including obstetrics, gynecology, oncology, urology, cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, endocrinology, nutrition, pediatrics and andrology. The app is available for download for iOS and Android users.

Patients can access telehealth appointments with doctors or caregiver in two ways: booking online on Medihome app or through call center 19009204. Patient telehealth appointments will be scheduled through their doctor’s office.

 “Telehealth appointments will provide peace of mind for patients,” said Dr. Vu Quoc Binh – President of Dr.Binh Tele_Clinic. “In this new age we are living in, we are working hard to make access to care as easy and safe as possible for our patients.”

For patients who prefer to see their doctor in person, Dr.Binh Tele_Clinic is always open and continue to welcome patients for their appointments. The health care organization is closely monitoring COVID-19 and is following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization, MOH of Vietnam in the care of patients.

Coronavirus: Are diabetics more prone to COVID-19?

The CDC has determined that COVID-19 is a serious public health threat—and older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, are at a higher risk of experiencing complications and getting very sick from it.

People with diabetes do face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from COVID-19.

In general, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications when infected with a virus. If diabetes is well-managed, the risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19 is about the same as the general population.

When people with diabetes do not manage their diabetes well and experience fluctuating blood sugars, they are generally at risk for a number of diabetes-related complications. Having heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes could worsen the chance of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, like other viral infections, because your body’s ability to fight off an infection is compromised.

Viral infections can also increase inflammation, or internal swelling, in people with diabetes. This is also caused by above-target blood sugars, and both could contribute to more severe complications.

When sick with a viral infection, people with diabetes do face an increased risk of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), commonly experienced by people with type 1 diabetes. DKA can make it challenging to manage your fluid intake and electrolyte levels—which is important in managing sepsis. Sepsis and septic shock are some of the more serious complications that some people with COVID-19 have experienced.

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COVID-19 is different from the seasonal flu.

COVID-19 is proving to be a more serious illness than seasonal flu in everyone, including people with diabetes. All of the standard precautions to avoid infection that have been widely reported are even more important when dealing with this virus.

Recommended safety precautions are the same as for flu, such as frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow. The CDC does not recommend the use of face masks by people who are not infected.

We encourage people with diabetes to follow the guidance of the CDC and to review how you manage sick days—preparing for a sick day can make it easier.

The risks are similar for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes

In general, we don’t know of any reason to think COVID-19 will pose a difference in risk between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. More important is that people with either type of diabetes vary in their age, complications and how well they have been managing their diabetes

People who already have diabetes-related health problems are likely to have worse outcomes if they contract COVID-19 than people with diabetes who are otherwise healthy, whichever type of diabetes they have.

What should people with diabetes do if they have the virus?

It is recommended that people with diabetes plan ahead of time what to do before they get ill. This includes having the contact information of their health care provider at hand and making sure to have an adequate stock of medications and supplies for monitoring blood glucose at home, so that they do not need to leave the house if they become ill. Peope with diabetes who are infected with the virus may see their glycaemic control deteriorate during the illness. They should practice the “Sick day rules” recommended for any stressful situation to improve their diabetes decompensation. They should also contact their health care provider immediately for advice on how to monitor their blood glucose, get adequate refills for medications (especially insulin) and what adjustments they may need to do in their medication or diet.

Sick day rules for people with diabetes

  • Keep hydrated
  • Monitor your blood glucose
  • Monitor your temperature
  • If you are on insulin, also monitor your ketone bodies
  • Follow your healthcare team recommendations

How can the virus be avoided?

Simple, sensible measures should be taken in every-day life in order to avoid infection from the virus:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based solution, especially before eating and after being in public.
  • Don’t share food, tools, glasses and towels.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are ill. If someone is visibly ill, coughing or sneezing, keep away.
  • If you get ill with respiratory symptoms, stay at home and notify others and your health care provider of the illness.
  • When sneezing or coughing, cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or with the crook of the elbow. Throw the tissue in the bin.
  • Avoid unprotected contact with wildlife and farm animals.

The World Health Organization recommends that people without respiratory symptoms do not need to wear a medical mask in the community, even if COVID-19 is prevalent in the area. Wearing a mask does not decrease the importance of other general measures to prevent infection, and it may result in unnecessary cost and supply problems.

Source: ADA, IDF

COVID-19 disease advice: When and how to use face mask

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face mask can reduce the spread of infection when used correctly and in the appropriate context. This may be recommended in workplaces where people are more likely to come in contact with the coronavirus disease.

When to use a mask

– If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.

You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.

If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a face mask if they enter your room.

– Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.

– Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

– If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask

– Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

– Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.

– Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

– Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.

– To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Source: WHO

How to protect yourself from coronavirus?

World Health Organization recommends people take these simple precautions against coronavirus to reduce exposure and transmission

How does the coronavirus spread?

The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak is a new illness and scientists are still assessing how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses tend to spread via cough and sneeze droplets.

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus. These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity and can be either directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection. For flu, some hospital guidelines define exposure as being within six feet of an infected person who sneezes or coughs for 10 minutes or longer.

Stay six feet from infected individuals.

Viruses can also be spread through droplets landing on surfaces such as seats on buses or trains or desks in school. However, whether this is a main transmission route depends on how long viruses survive on surfaces – this can vary from hours to months.

There is anecdotal evidence that the virus can be spread by people before they have symptoms. Some other illnesses such as flu can be passed from one person to another before symptoms occur – but the extent to which this is happening with the Wuhan coronavirus is not well understood yet.

How to protect yourself and others

Wash your hands.

Wash your hands: wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse.

Cover your mouth.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the bin and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue to hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands.

Facemasks offer some protection.

Face masks offer some protection as they block liquid droplets. However, they do not block smaller aerosol particles that can pass through the material of the mask. The masks also leave the eyes exposed and there is evidence that some viruses can infect a person through the eyes.

Seek medical help.

Seek early medical help if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share your travel history with healthcare providers.

Avoid live animals.

If visiting live markets in affected areas avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces that have been in contact with animals.

Avoid raw foods.

If you are in an affected area avoid eating raw or under-cooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

Quarantine yourself after travel from affected areas.

If you have returned from an affected area in China in the last two weeks, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. This means not going to work, school or public areas.

Seek medical advice before leaving home.

If you have returned from an infected area and develop a high temperature, cough, runny nose, sore throat or difficulty breathing do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a doctor.

Source: The Guardian