To my Patients and Friends,
Here are some of the latest COVID-19 news items.
Can we count on protective antibodies after a COVID-19 infection?
A recent study has demonstrated that many people may not produce adequate protective antibodies after a COVID-19 infection. The researchers were able to identify protective antibodies; they just didn’t find that they were consistently produced in adequate quantities. Although this question remains to be answered with certainty, there’s some potentially good news here: those antibodies that were identified represent potential paths to an effective vaccine. Fingers crossed.
On the subject of vaccines, this interesting article reviews some potential pitfalls associated with the practice of deliberately infecting humans with the coronavirus- otherwise, know as human challenge trials– as a means of determining vaccine safety and efficacy. There is some precedent… for example, Dr. Edward Jenner was able to develop his smallpox vaccine way back in 1796 after deliberately exposing subjects who had recently recovered from cowpox- a close cousin that triggers the production of protective antibodies- to the smallpox virus. Although these trials are being considered once again, there are a number of ethical and practical considerations, and this method may not expedite the vaccine production process.
Who is high risk?
The CDC recently updated their guidelines as to who should be considered at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease. The updated list includes those with:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Moderate to severe asthma
- Overweight and obesity (in children as well as adults)
- Immunosuppressing conditions
- Sickle cell disease
- History of an organ transplant
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Neurologic conditions such as dementia or history of stroke
- Liver disease
…and let’s not forget about social and racial determinants
The body of knowledge regarding ethnic and social disparities impacting COVID-19 outcomes continues to grow. Another study has demonstrated that black Americans are four times more likely to be hospitalized with complications of COVID-19 than their white counterparts. And researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have delineated other important social determinants, including variations in age, socioeconomic status, ambient climate, degree of environmental pollution, and even commuting patterns.
Innovation in the age of COVID-19
This may not be relevant for most of you, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Questions have arisen as to the safety of using cadavers to teach medical students about human anatomy in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual alternatives may become the new teaching standard. By way of example, check out this interesting virtual teaching tool designed to educate students on the anatomy of the human heart. Really cool stuff!
Something for football fans
Although we have yet to know for sure what this upcoming football season will look like, all is not lost. Read here to learn about how a popular football app has been retooled for the purposes of digitally tracing COVID-19.
Another possible COVID-19 treatment
A recent study conducted at the University of Athens has found that colchicine, a commonly-used gout medication, may be helpful in blunting some of the cardiovascular complications asociated with COVID-19. The study was small and more data are needed, but this nonetheless represents another potential treatment tool… stay tuned.
Flu vaccines will never be more important
Experts are advising that getting influenza vaccines will be critical in anticipation of this upcoming flu season, and increased production of the vaccine has been encouraged. It’s already in relatively short supply. Epidemiologists anticipate a “Flu-COVID collision,” which could add layers of complexity in terms of keeping our healthcare system afloat as these diseases inevitably spread concurrently through the United States.
For those of you who have been resistant to getting the flu vaccine in the past, I encourage you to reconsider that decision this year. It’s really important. Please don’t allow renewed efforts on the part of the evidence-averse (and frankly dangerous) anti-vaxxers’ movement to get into your heads.
Here’s how one dad and his seven-year-old daughter have been making the most of their extra time together… enjoy this sweet moment!
That’s all for this week. I hope you have a lovely weekend… see you soon!
For more information about Dr. Leibowitz’s concierge practice, please click here.