Four Important New Findings
A roundup of new Covid-19 research from the last few days
- Sleeping with severe Covid-19: Lying face down was better for the lungs of people with severe Covid-19 in a study of 12 people in a hospital in Wuhan, China. The findings, described in a research letter published Monday in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, are “important for the management of patients with severe Covid-19 requiring mechanical ventilation,” said lead author Dr. Chun Pan, acknowledging the sample size was small. The doctors used a device attached to the patients’ ventilators to measure their oxygen flow, lung volume, airway pressure, and other factors while they were lying facing up or facing down, finding that the patients’ lungs functioned better in the prone (face-down) position.
- Minor mutations, one vaccine: SARS-CoV-2 is mutating at a rate that would require only one vaccine to protect the public from future infections, as opposed to a new vaccine every year, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. In his study of over 1,000 samples of the virus, Peter Thielen, a molecular geneticist at Johns Hopkins University, found only “four to 10” genetic variations in the strains that infected people in the United States and the one that originated in Wuhan, China. This means that once a vaccine is developed (which scientists are racing to do), it will likely be effective over a long period of time, like the chicken pox or measles vaccine.
- The impact of physical distancing: A new study in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases further supports the need for severe social distancing measures. A simulation of Singapore showed that quarantining people infected with Covid-19 and their families, closing schools, and workplace distancing is the most effective strategy to curb the spread of the virus. The least effective strategy is only quarantining people infected by the disease and their families.
- Possible Covid-19 treatments: A new review in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases lists early and emerging drug options for Covid-19 treatment. It breaks them up into four categories: drugs with potential clinical benefits, those that should be used to supplement other treatments, options in which the risks outweigh the benefits, and a laundry list of drugs still under investigation. The most promising ones include drugs like remdesivir, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, and the combination drug lopinavir/ritonavir. Check out this YouTube playlist from the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists for a summary of treatment options.