Five Important New Findings
A roundup of Covid-19 research from the past week
- Surgical, cotton masks may be ineffective: South Korean researchers suggest that surgical and cotton masks are ineffective in preventing the transmission of Covid-19 from infected people in a study published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine. However, more research is needed to determine whether the masks shorten the distance that droplets travel or decrease virus transmission from asymptomatic people.
- Something in the air: Higher air pollution was linked to higher death rates from Covid-19 in Northern Italy in a paper published in Environmental Pollution last Friday. Persistent exposure to air pollution is part of the reason why the death rate in that region (12%) is higher than in the rest of the country (4.5%), say the researchers.
- Closer to a vaccine: Researchers developed a vaccine that effectively protected mice from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a coronavirus related to Covid-19, publishing their results in mBio on Tuesday. This vaccine could lead to the development of vaccines for other coronaviruses, including Covid-19.
- Older men, chronic conditions: In the largest study of deaths from Covid-19, researchers in Wuhan found that most of the fatalities were men over the age of 50 who had pre-existing, noncommunicable chronic conditions. The study of the medical records of 85 Covid-19 patients was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine on Monday.
- Childcare or health care?: At least one in seven frontline medical workers may have to miss work to care for their children because of Covid-19 lockdowns, suggests research published last Thursday in Lancet Public Health. The researchers predict that the mortality rate from Covid-19 could increase slightly if these medical workers have to miss work.