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Can Air Conditioning Spread COVID-19?

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Recent evidence from a Harvard infectious disease expert found that COVID-19 can spread through air conditioning, and suggested air conditioning use across the southern U.S. may contribute to the spike in COVID-19 cases. Also, ultraviolet lights used to sterilize the air of TB bacteria could do the same for SARS-CoV-2. 

Edward Nardell, professor of medicine and global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and professor of environmental health and immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, stated those high temperatures could create conditions similar to those found in winter when respiratory ailments are more likely to surge—thus causing people indoors to breathe and rebreathe air that is typically refreshed from outside.  

Nardell confirmed that states in June were already using a significant amount of air conditioning because of the heat. Those states happen to be places where there have been increases in the spread of COVID-19.  Though transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been known to transmit primarily through large droplets expelled when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks, Nardell said evidence has grown that there are some cases of COVID-19 that occur via airborne transmission

Airborne transmission occurs when virus particles contained in smaller droplets don’t disperse within six feet and instead remain in the air and drift on currents. This form of transmission is considered to have been a factor in the coronavirus’ spread among members of a Washington choir, throughout an apartment building in Hong Kong, and in a restaurant located in Wuhan, China, Nardell said.

Nardell said that as people look to stay indoors during the hot temperatures, the re-breathed air fraction increases, and infection risk grows. Airborne transmission would make people even more vulnerable to the virus in a closed room. For example, in an office with five people, as windows are closed and air conditioning on, CO2 levels rise steeply, indicating that occupants are rebreathing air in the room and from each other.

Nardell explained the work Friday morning during an online presentation sponsored by the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness (MassCPR), an HMS-led partnership of researchers from 15 Massachusetts institutions and the Guangzhou Institute for Respiratory Health in China. 

MassCPR aims to foster research that will rapidly translate to the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 90-minute public briefing addressed concerns about reopening efforts, which HMS Dean George Daley hosted. The public briefing included presentations on Americans’ mobility during the pandemic, contact-tracing methods, producing personal protective equipment, and of viral and antibody testing as resources to identify new cases and understand the pandemic’s course through society. Nardell stated being outside or increasing ventilation inside can effectively slow transmission, though the ventilation systems in many business settings limit the amount of fresh air coming in. 

You can also use portable room air cleaners, though they can have limited airflow, Nardell said. Germicidal lamps are a technology almost 100 years old, have been proven effective in protecting against tuberculosis infection, and have already been applied in some settings to fight against SARS-CoV-2. Compared to mechanical ventilation and portable room air cleaners, the lights are up to ten times more effective, according to one study Nardell said.

The lamps are designed to shine horizontally, high in the room where sterilization is necessary. Air currents, stirred in part by warmth from human bodies, flow up to the ceiling, where the ultraviolet light kills loose pathogens, and then back down again. Nardell said this technology is not only proven, but it can also be deployed cheaply and easily in several settings as society reopens.

There have been recent advancements to help limit the spread of the virus and detect the infection within seconds as the world continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sources: 

  1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/06/air-conditioning-may-be-factor-in-covid-19-spread-in-the-south/
  2. https://ghsm.hms.harvard.edu/faculty-staff/edward-anthony-nardell
  3. https://hms.harvard.edu/
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/
  5. https://masscpr.hms.harvard.edu/
  6. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/11/cedars-sinai-expert-weighs-in-on-uncertainty-over-coronavirus-antibodies/
  7. https://www.who.int/
  8. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/25/could-electric-antiviral-face-masks-remove-coronavirus-pathogens/
  9. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/30/breathalyzer-can-detect-covid-19-in-seconds/

Covid-19

New Study Finds Children Can Spread COVID-19 as Much as Adults

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A new study from South Korea has discovered that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread COVID-19 just as much as adults. The extensive study, published by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, states that household transmission of the virus “was high” for those between 10 and 19 years old

Household transmission rates were lower for patients aged 0 to 9. Researchers examined reports for 59,073 contacts of 5,706 coronavirus patients in South Korea between January 20 and March 27. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told The New York Times that this study is one of the best to date concerning the coronavirus and transmission of the disease.

The results arrive as school officials across the nation determine whether or not to reopen schools for the upcoming year. The South Korean study said that the researchers’ findings of coronavirus transmission during school reopenings emphasize the need for a time-sensitive epidemiologic study to safeguard public health policy.

The study also indicated the effectiveness of contact tracing, especially in light of future waves of SARS-CoV-2, that will rely heavily upon social distancing and personal hygiene as primary factors for preventative measures. Awareness of the role hygiene and infection control measure plays is vital to reducing the household spread, and using masks in the home for family members who are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus needs further research.

Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times, that there will be transmission rates of the virus if schools reopen and include that in plans for preventing and limiting the contraction of the virus. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.health.com/syndication/children-aged-10-19-spread-coronavirus-just-as-much-as-adults-new-study-finds
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/27/young-californians-attribute-in-coronavirus-spike/
  3. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ashish-jha/
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/18/health/coronavirus-children-schools.html
  6. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/04/02/is-social-distancing-helping-californians/
  7. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/17/how-to-fix-this-type-of-n95-mask-to-limit-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus/
  8. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/about-us/cidrap-staff/michael-t-osterholm-phd-mph

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Covid-19

Video Laryngoscope Released in the U.S. for Faster Intubation During COVID-19

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Healthcare facilities worldwide are on the front lines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by providing treatment for patients. Those who are in critical condition in intensive care units need intubation, but this process can be complicated by obtaining an airway precisely. Each patient varies; some can take a minute or more during intubation, potentially leading to fatal consequences. 

Nihon Kohden is launching its NK AWS-S200 video laryngoscope in the United States under the Pentax brand outside the United States. This device is designed to achieve intubation faster and on the first try. Furthermore, the company claims the product “can help protect clinicians while intubating patients suffering from COVID-19 or other respiratory infections”.

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The NK AWS-S20 features a high-definition color display targeting cross-hairs that help deliver the working end into the airway. A functioning channel allows for the endotracheal tube to be pushed while viewing the airway properly. 

There is a built-in-channel to guide the endotracheal tube and continuously observe the intubation process. The video laryngoscope can decrease the risk of oral and pharyngeal injury, such as mild mucosal bleeding and sore throat.

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Nihon Kohden mentioned that the NK AWS-S200  allows healthcare professionals to intubate challenging patients quicker than other competitor’s devices. The company expressed the device can help clinicians intubate patients with even difficult airways in  22.9 seconds, well below the 30-second threshold suggested for intubations and up to 33 seconds faster than other devices. 

Genoveffa Devers, DNP, MSHA, RN, CPHQ, VP of clinical and strategic alliances at Nihon Kohden stated the importance of tools to establish an airway quickly and efficiently as possible for healthcare providers. She added that the NK AWS-S200 video laryngoscope is designed to attain this while maintaining clinicians’ safety by limiting contact trying to visualize the vocal cords and larynx. 

Using the firm’s disposable NK PBLADE blades, which are available in four different sizes, help clinicians reduce cross-contamination between patients and those providing treatment.

In addition, when administering CPR, the video laryngoscope can be used to intubate patients without delaying life-saving treatment. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.medgadget.com/2020/07/nihon-kohden-releases-video-laryngoscope-in-u-s-for-faster-intubation-during-covid.html
  2. https://www.webmd.com/lung/intubation-explained
  3. https://www.nihonkohden.com/

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Covid-19

‘COVID Symptom Study’ App Tracks Various COVID-19 Symptoms

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A new smartphone COVID-19 app that tracks symptoms has gathered information from more than 4 million people worldwide and gives doctors the ability to examine the different symptoms patients are experiencing with the virus. The mixture of various symptoms people are exhibiting with COVID-19 is unexpected.

According to Dr. Troy Pennington of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, there are various forms of COVID-19 symptoms in patients. The application is called the COVID Symptom Study, was designed by healthcare professionals and scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital, The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, King’s College London and Stanford University School of Medicine, working beside ZOE, a health science company. Users can input their health information and get statistics on those participating around their region. 

Researchers grouped patients into six different clusters. The first cluster of patients are those experiencing mild symptoms who had flu-like symptoms, according to Pennington. The symptoms included body aches, possibly a sore throat, mild shortness of breath, and mostly mild symptoms, but no fever.

The second cluster of patients displayed similar symptoms, but with a fever. The third group of patients included gastrointestinal issues. Pennington added that there was a GI component with mild diarrhea or even an upset stomach. 

The fourth cluster of patients added severe fatigue, while the fifth added confusion as part of their symptoms. The sixth cluster consisted of patients experiencing the most severe symptoms, including abdominal and respiratory problems. This group had all of the common attributes of flu-like illness, but it had a very significant GI component with persistent abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

Pennington stated some of his patients at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center had exhibited even more peculiar symptoms such as unusual rashes and rashes that also looked like hives or chickenpox. Another patient was complaining of number fingers and toes. 

According to the study, the only common symptoms in all six clusters were headaches and loss of smell.

The COVID Symptom Study app has allowed physicians to get a closer look at COVID-19 symptoms patients experience to help healthcare professionals identify and treat patients accordingly. 

Sources: 

  1. https://abc7.com/covid-19-covid-symptoms-coronavirus-is-upset-stomach-and-diarrhea-a-symptom-of/6345955/
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/07/11/pink-eye-symptom-of-covid-19/
  3. https://covid.joinzoe.com/us
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/14/how-does-covid-19-affect-the-lungs/

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