Coronavirus morning recap: Covid ethics, forms of disease in mild cases, and household transmission



READ | Coronavirus household transmission much higher than previously thought, new study suggests

Individuals who develop Covid-19 end up infecting around half of their household members with SARS-CoV-2, a US study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found.

The study’s findings also revealed that adults are only slightly more likely than children to spread the virus, which differs from previous research suggesting that adults are bigger drivers than children.

According to their paper, transmission of the new coronavirus occurring within households is well known; however, the data on transmission from children are limited.

The research involved finding index cases (the first household case) of patients with lab-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection among 191 people in Nashville, Tennessee, and Wisconsin who lived with someone recently diagnosed with Covid-19.

The study was published in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In an attempt to quantify Covid-19’s household transmission rate, the CDC researchers had both the index patients and their household members complete symptom diaries.

READ | Seven different 'forms of disease' identified in mild Covid-19 cases - study

Seven "forms of disease", or groups of symptoms, have been found in patients with mild Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, leaving them with significant changes to their immune system (even after 10 weeks), a new study by the Medical University of Vienna has found.

The study, published in the journal Allergy, involved 109 convalescents (patients recovering from Covid-19) and 98 healthy individuals in the control group.

"Several studies have investigated cellular immune responses in Covid-19 patients during disease but little is known regarding a possible protracted impact of Covid-19 on the adaptive and innate immune system in Covid-19-convalescent patients," the authors wrote.

Various symptoms related to Covid-19 occurred in symptom groups, the researchers found.

The seven groups of symptoms identified included the following:

  • Flu-like symptoms (with fever, chills, fatigue and cough)
  • Common cold-like symptoms (with rhinitis, sneezing, dry throat and nasal congestion)
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Eye and mucosal inflammation
  • Lung problems (with pneumonia and shortness of breath)
  • Gastrointestinal problems (including diarrhoea, nausea and headache)
  • Loss of sense of smell and taste and other symptoms

READ | Ethics and Covid-19: Who should get the ventilator when resources are scarce?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many difficult decisions have had to be made quickly, including those around the allocation of limited, lifesaving resources.

On the topic of ethics and Covid-19 resource allocation, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates the following:

“Governments, international agencies and health systems have an obligation to ensure, to the best of their ability, adequate provision of healthcare for all. However, this may not be possible during a pandemic, when health resources are likely to be limited.”

Rationing resources in this context results in the need to make “tragic choices”, the organisation notes, but comments that these choices can be ethically justified according to a principle that prioritises those most in need.

When over 5 000 people across 11 countries were presented with this moral dilemma of which of two Covid-19 patients should get access to a ventilator that could save their life when medical resources are scarce, the majority of participants felt that the lives of younger patients, as well as those most likely to survive, should be prioritised.

"People seemed to want to maximise total benefits to society by choosing those who would live longest as a result of the treatment, either because of their younger age or because of overall probability of survival," Yunhui Huang, co-author of the study and assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, said in a news release, adding that the responses were “a very utilitarian way of deciding".


SA cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 730 548.

According to the latest update, 46 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 660 185 recoveries.

So far, 4 893 683 tests have been conducted, with 25 073 new tests reported.

Global cases update:

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

Early on Thursday morning, positive cases worldwide were more than 47.7 million, while deaths were more than to 1.2 million.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 9.42 million , as well as the most deaths - more than 233 000.


Latest news:

READ | Two-thirds of Europe's entire population are now under strict new coronavirus measures as cases surge

At least two-thirds of Europe's entire population are currently under some form of new lockdown or restriction, as the continent battles a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

Since mid-October, all of the continent's largest states have reintroduced many measures first imposed in the spring.

As of Wednesday, at least 5 million out of Europe's 7.4 million inhabitants have been put under some form of new measure imposed in recent weeks.

Cases and deaths are rising in most European countries, and a number have reported record numbers of daily new infections.

READ | There's a 'small chance' Oxford's Covid vaccine will be ready this year

Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine trial, said Wednesday there was a "small chance" the jab will be ready before December 25.

The vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is one of the world's leading vaccine candidates.

Pollard told the UK's Science and Technology Committee he hoped the vaccine could have late-stage trial results before the end of 2020, per Sky News.

"I'm optimistic that we could reach that point before the end of this year," he said, adding that "there is a small chance" the vaccine would be ready by Christmas.

AstraZeneca's CEO Pascal Soriot said in September hat the company "could still have a vaccine by the end of this year."

No Covid-19 vaccine has yet been approved in the UK, but two are in late-stage clinical trials: the Oxford University vaccine, and one from German firm BioNtech and US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer.

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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