New COVID data
An amazing clinical discovery: chewing gum with Xylitol decreases preterm birth by 24 percent! This simple and inexpensive intervention that prevents premature delivery is “linked to improvement in oral health, according to research presented at the meeting sponsored by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.” Oral health also impacts heart health, our gut microbiome, besides general well-being. COVID-19 vaccines also prevent preterm births.
The World Health Organization has strongly recommended an arthritis drug, Baricitinib, a Janus kinase inhibitor, for severe or critical COVID-19 cases. The clinical trials using this arthritis medication reveal improved survival, reduced the need for mechanical ventilation, and reduced hospitalization of these cases.
Two individuals with Long COVID-19 had significant improvements in symptoms after taking over-the-counter antihistamines. They were able “to perform activities of daily living.” This finding has led to larger studies to investigate the validity of this observation.
Sweden’s Health Agency recommends that people 80 and older receive a second booster dose (fourth shot) of COVID-19 vaccines, given at least four months after the first booster to strengthen the protection.
“A recent study investigated whether airborne SARS-CoV-2 particles were present outside of isolation rooms in homes containing one household member with a positive test result. The researchers found that aerosols of small respiratory droplets containing airborne SARSCoV-2 RNA were present both inside and outside of these rooms,” reports MNT. Unless each room has its own exclusive ventilation system, it shows that room self-isolation at home is not totally safe for other members of the same household. Opening all windows might help reduce the viral load in the air.
The latest data from the United Kingdom reveal 2.1 percent of the population (one in 48 people) are experiencing Long COVID, a new emerging chronic condition. More than half a million have been having symptoms that linger for at least a year. This “post-COVID syndrome” may include any combination of these symptoms: “brain fog” or cognitive dysfunction, troubled breathing or shortness of breath, fatigue, malaise, sense of “not feeling well,” and disturbance in the immune system. Vaccines have been helpful to these chronic patients, making them feel better.
New rapid test
Above photo: Fudan University in Shanghai
Chinese scientists at Fudan University in Shanghai have developed a new COVID-19 test that provides results in less than 4 minutes, instead of hours or days. The test employs micro-electronic technology, using an “electromechanical biosensor that analyzes specimens from the back of the throat and nose and detects SARS-CoV2 RNA as accurate as a PCR.”
Vaccines cover “Stealth”
Although the Stealth Omicron subvariant (BA.2), which is now the predominant virus (after 20 mutations in spike proteins) and even more transmissible than Omicron (BA.1), which itself is a super-rapid spreader compared to Delta, the current vaccines have been found to be effective for all three. Stealth Omicron has also been found to be “less likely than Omicron to transmit from vaccinated people who did contract COVID-19 infection.” BA.1 and BA.2 are less likely to affect the lungs among otherwise healthy people.
Lifting mask mandate
The governors of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Oregon are lifting the mask mandate in their schools by the end of February or March, citing rapid decline in Omicron cases and the desire for “normalcy.” Cases in New Jersey have dropped by half and hospitalization by a third since last week, but deaths around the country are still very high, around 2,400 in one day alone.
In view of the Stealth Omicron and potential future strains because of the number of unvaccinated people (20 percent) in the United States, lifting the mask mandate (social distancing will stop) may be too premature. Studies also show acceptable oxygen saturation among adults or children who wear masks for hours on end and did not negatively impact their health.
Worldwide, an estimated 2.2 million children, ages 5-14, died, 43 percent of them aged 10-19, and almost 1000 in the United States alone in 2021. Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 are milder but NOT mild, and could still kill. For children to get used to wearing a mask when needed (like a security blanket or toy) may not be a bad exercise. We can never be too careful in protecting our little gems!
Higher risk of death
A new clinical study shows people hospitalized with COVID-19 have an increased risk of death and readmission afterward, especially highest among those with preexisting dementia/Alzheimer’s. Unvaccinated adults 18 and older have 13 times risk of testing positive and 68 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Bottom of Form
Vaccines and fertility
Earlier and new studies find the COVID-19 vaccines do not adversely affect fertility in males or females, but there appear to be short-term effects on fertility among males. The COVID-19 vaccines are not detrimental to pregnant mothers. As a matter of fact, the vaccines are strongly recommended for pregnant individuals to prevent premature delivery and stillbirths that COVID-19 causes.
A droplet is enough
A landmark human challenge trial suggests that “being exposed to a single nasal droplet of SARS-CoV2 particles is enough to cause a person to develop COVID-19 fast, within 42 hours. The researchers also found that infected persons (with or without symptoms) were most likely to pass on the virus at 5 days into infection. For recovering patients, it is best to self-quarantine for about 10 days before mingling with people.
There is evidence of a possible connection between Long COVID-19 and gut dysbiosis (changes in the community microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. Gut symbiosis and balance (of good and bad bacteria) are important in general health and our immune system. People with the Long COVID-19 have distinct changes in their gut microbiota, showing the more severe the infection, the greater the dysbiosis, with fewer “friendly” bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract. This inspires the need “to investigate the use of dietary changes, probiotics, and fecal transplants as potential treatments for Long COVID-19.”
Life is precious
The pandemic is far from over. While the politicians endanger the public with their political correctness and medical ignorance, let us listen to science and continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones with frequent handwashing, wearing NIOSH-N95 masks, and social distancing, until the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have flattened out. Plain common sense.