New Delhi: Even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives across the world, a scientific understanding of the virus and how to fight it evolves every day.
The Print brings you five latest research and developments on the Covid-19 front.
Potential harms of hydroxychloroquine for treating Covid-19
Physicians should be aware of the potentially adverse effects that can be caused by the drugs chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin — which are being used in many countries to treat and prevent Covid-19, despite weak evidence of their effectiveness.
In a review published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), researchers have warned of the likely adverse effects of these drugs, include cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beats), low blood sugar, and neuropsychiatric effects such as agitation, confusion, hallucination and paranoia.
Overdose of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — which are highly toxic — can cause seizures, coma and cardiac arrest, the review suggests.
It also cautions that these medicines could worsen the disease.
Smokers, COPD patients at higher risk of infection
People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those who regularly smoke may have higher levels of a molecule that allows coronavirus to get into the cells of the lungs and cause infection, a study suggests.
Called angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE-2), which sits on the surface of lung cells, it is the ‘entry point’ that the SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter human cells.
The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, shows that levels of ACE-2 in former smokers is lower than in current ones.
The team studied samples taken from the lungs of 21 COPD patients and 21 people who did not have COPD. They tested the samples to gauge the level of ACE-2 and compared this with other factors — whether they were from people who never smoked, were current smokers or used to smoke formerly.
Not only did they find higher levels of ACE-2 in COPD patients, they also found inflated levels in people who smoke regularly.
Smart ring can detect infection before symptoms appear
Scientists at the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute have designed an artificial intelligence-enabled smart ring that can identify infected people before they become symptomatic.
The technology can be especially useful to identify infected healthcare professionals and curb the spread of infection at the earliest.
The ring, coupled with a Covid-19 monitoring app, not only measures the onset of increased body temperature but also integrates physiologic measures with psychological, cognitive and behavioral biometrics, such as stress and anxiety.
By analysing these parameters in real time, the team can forecast and predict the onset of fever, cough, fatigue and other physical symptoms linked to viral infections.
Lockdown affects physical health, mental well-being
A preliminary study of people who were living in lockdown shows how the restrictions are affecting their overall physical health and mental well-being.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide, Tongji University and University of Sydney have surveyed 369 adults living in 64 cities in China who lived under one-month of confinement measures in February this year.
The results have shown that adults in locations more affected by Covid-19 had poor physical and mental health, and lower levels of life satisfaction.
The study says that adults with existing health conditions and those who stopped working were most at risk of severe mental and physical health issues.
Babies with Covid-19 infection experience only mild symptoms
Newborns in China having Covid-19 infection experienced only mild symptoms, with none requiring intensive care or mechanical ventilation, according to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal.
The researchers from Wuhan University in China studied four babies born to mothers with Covid-19. All were delivered by caesarean section, and three were separated from their mothers at birth.
The study suggests that intrauterine transmission cannot be ruled out, but the prognosis is good for both pregnant women and newborn babies.