Coronavirus morning recap: Children vs adults - how the immune system responds to Covid-19



READ | Children’s immune systems respond differently to Covid-19 than those of adults, research suggests

Early in the Covid-19 outbreak, evidence showed that children are likely to experience milder Covid-19 symptoms than adults.

A study published in Science Translational Medicine is the first to compare the immune responses of children and adults. This new research detected some key differences to explain the phenomenon.

For the research, scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Yale University investigated cases of 60 adult Covid-19 patients and 65 child patients (all younger than 24 years) between 13 March and 17 May 2020.

The scientists tested the patients’ blood for several types of immune cells, antibody responses and cytokines produced by immune cells.

The children’s immune responses looked significantly better than those of the adults. Twenty-two adults needed ventilation, in comparison with only five children, and 17 adults died compared to just two of the paediatric patients.

"Our findings suggest that children with Covid-19 do better than adults because their stronger innate immunity protects them against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease," said co-senior author Dr Betsy Herold, chief of infectious diseases and vice chair for research in the department of paediatrics at Einstein and CHAM.


SA cases update:

The latest number of confirmed cases is 667 049.

According to the latest update, 16 283 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 595 916 recoveries.

So far, more than 4.1 million tests have been conducted, with 18 405 new tests reported.

Global cases update:

For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Early on Friday morning, positive cases worldwide were over 32 million, while deaths were almost 980 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 6.9 million, as well as the most deaths - close to 203 000.


Latest news:

READ MORE | Mental health: Are medicine shortages fuelling a shadow epidemic?

In August, almost half of the most commonly used medications to treat mental illness in South Africa were out of stock, and many have been in short supply since March.

Now, experts warn that amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the nation could see a “shadow epidemic” of psychiatric illness and it could prove deadly for patients.

David Nkosi was agitated, remembers Lucy Monroe who runs a licensed non-profit home for people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

Nkosi, not his real name, is one of the many people at the home whose care is subsidised by the Gauteng Health Department in a decades’ old arrangement with non-governmental organisations there.

Each month, the home’s staff collect boxes of pre-packed medication for these patients from a state hospital pharmacy.

But recently, what was in the sealed carton was not what Monroe expected.

“You’d get the box home, open it up and find there were medicines missing,” Monroe explains.

READ | Masuku threatens 'action' against DA MPL over claims of Nasrec hospital costs

Embattled Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku has threatened action against Gauteng DA MPL Jack Bloom.

Masuku has called on Bloom to retract his media statement that, under Masuku’s leadership, R500 000 was spent per patient admitted to the Nasrec field hospital.

Bloom claimed that only 700 patients were admitted at the 1 500-capacity facility.

"The Nasrec field hospital was commissioned on 15 June this year and has so far admitted 604 patients for quarantine and isolation, and 96 patients for intermediate care including oxygen. The total bed capacity is 1 500 but there were only 25 patients as at 28 August 2020," he said."

The facility has cost about R350 million in total, which means that R500 000 has been spent on each patient. This is a colossal waste of money caused by poor judgment and probable corruption as connected people benefited from large contracts.

"The quarantine patients could easily have been accommodated at hotels, and private hospitals could have been paid to treat the 96 patients who required intermediate care."

Bloom said, at some stage, doctors had to appeal for oxygen to be donated to assist patients.

"The runaway costs of the Nasrec facility are yet another reason why Masuku who is suspended should be fired in addition to his failure to prevent the massive corruption in the PPE contracts," Bloom said.

READ | Covid-19 corruption 'against what SA stands for as a nation' - Parliament's presiding officers

Parliament's presiding officers – Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise and National Council of of Province's chairperson Amos Masondo – said the "brazen" Covid-19 corruption goes against everything South Africa stands for as a nation.

Modise and Masondo spoke out in a joint statement to mark Heritage Day.

They said 24 September was declared a public holiday in recognition and celebration of our cultural wealth and diversity as a nation.

"It is about celebrating South Africa's rich tapestry of people (who the apartheid regime sought to divide and rule on the basis of race), with their varying languages and cultures, human solidarity, human dignity, unity and respect, among other things.

"It is about observing what unites us, what makes us stronger to withstand testing times, as we build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous nation," their statement read.

Modise and Masondo said that, through unity of purpose, partnerships and synergies, the country had prevailed against Covid-19.

"As the battle continues, we pay tribute to all frontline workers, at the heart of our fight against the pandemic, for their courage, their noble selflessness."

Modise and Masondo said rebuilding the economy after Covid-19 would require all South Africans to tap into what they should regard as their common heritage – the spirit of Ubuntu – by ensuring a united front to tackle socio-economic hardships.


Latest news:

READ | London could soon go back into coronavirus lockdown as officials warn of a 'rising tide' of cases

London could soon be placed under lockdown if measures which Boris Johnson introduced this week do not prove effective in curbing the rapid rise of coronavirus infections in the capital.

Health officials recorded 6 178 new Covid-19 cases across the UK on Wednesday, up by 1 252 on Tuesday's figures, as the virus continues to spread rapidly in every part of the country.

Boris Johnson on Tuesday said all pubs and restaurants would be forced to close at 10pm. But scientists who advise the government on their coronavirus response have warned such measures will not be enough to contain the virus.

Kevin Fenton, director of Public Health England, warned that the virus was particularly prevalent in London and said the situation there threatened to "escalate."

He warned that the outbreak in London appeared to be as serious as that of northeast England, where the outbreak has been most severe within the UK.

"We are seeing a rising tide of coronavirus cases in London across a broad range of ages. This is no longer limited to young people in their twenties," he said in a statement.

Fenton said that "whilst the number of cases by borough varies, the general trend across the city is one of steadily increasing transmission and if that continues then the situation may escalate."

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Maintain physical distancing – stay at least one metre away from somebody who is coughing or sneezing

• Practise frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as your hands touch many surfaces and could potentially transfer the virus

• Practise respiratory hygiene – cover your mouth with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Remember to dispose the tissue immediately after use.

Image credit: Getty Images

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