Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Might Be Easier Than Thought, Researchers Say
Scientists are now suggesting that herd immunity is achievable if 50%, not 70%, of a given population becomes immune through vaccination or surviving the infection. In other scientific news: is there a weekly COVID pattern?; a new mutation may be less deadly; and more.
The New York Times:
Covid-19: What If ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Closer Than Scientists Thought?
To achieve so-called herd immunity — the point at which the virus can no longer spread widely because there are not enough vulnerable humans — scientists have suggested that perhaps 70 percent of a given population must be immune, through vaccination or because they survived the infection. Now some researchers are wrestling with a hopeful possibility. In interviews with The New York Times, more than a dozen scientists said that the threshold is likely to be much lower: just 50 percent, perhaps even less. If that’s true, then it may be possible to turn back the coronavirus more quickly than once thought. (Mandavilli, 8/17)
COVID-19 Cases, Deaths May Follow Weekly Pattern
MIT, Boston University, and Harvard Medical School researchers have identified weekly oscillations in the numbers of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths in several countries that are more pronounced than fluctuations seen with other diseases. ... In the United States, the lag time between daily new cases and deaths was 2 days, compared with 1 day for Germany. But the authors said that the lag was not caused by epidemiologic factors but rather by possible bias in the disease surveillance system. (Van Beusekom, 8/17)
More Infectious Coronavirus Mutation May Be 'A Good Thing,' Says Disease Expert
An increasingly common mutation of the novel coronavirus found in Europe, North America and parts of Asia may be more infectious but appears less deadly, according to a prominent infectious diseases doctor. Paul Tambyah, senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, said evidence suggests the proliferation of the D614G mutation in some parts of the world has coincided with a drop in death rates, suggesting it is less lethal. (8/17)
COVID-19 Patients With Heart Disease At Risk For Complications, Death
A meta-analysis by Italian researchers published late last week in PLOS One shows that COVID-19 patients who have or are at risk for cardiovascular disease are more likely than others to develop cardiovascular complications and die from their infections.Researchers analyzed data from 21 published observational studies involving 77,317 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Asia, Europe, and the United States. At hospital admission, 12.9% of the patients had cardiovascular conditions, 36.1% had high blood pressure, 33.8% were obese, 19.5% had diabetes, and 10.7% were smokers. Of all patients, 11.7% had coronary artery disease, 9.4% had heart failure, and 5.3% had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. (8/17)
How Do You Separate Scientifically Sound Stem Cell Therapies From Scams?
For patients who’ve run out of other options, experimental, unproven therapies like stem cell treatments offer new hope. But how do you sort the scientifically legitimate from the dangerous? (Ortolano, 8/18)