The Latest in COVID-19 News: Week Ending 04.24.21 – NEJM Journal Watch

Click on the link for the NEJM Journal Watch weekly update.  Not a lot of links this week for SARS-CoV-2 articles but again I did not forget to post this.

https://www.jwatch.org/fw117733/2021/04/24/covid-19-news-week-ending-apr-24-2021

So in the spirit of big news that didn’t get mentioned in this week’s NEJM Journal Watch:

FDA, CDC Lift Suspension of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Cite this: FDA, CDC Lift Suspension of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine – Medscape – Apr 23, 2021 — https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/949913

Meanwhile pray for India.

India has recorded nearly a million infections in three days, with 346,786 new cases overnight into Saturday.

India Covid surge: Hospitals send SOS as record deaths registered — https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56870410

What is driving the second wave in India? — Science Chronicle

Understanding the infectiousness of the double mutant variant becomes all the more important as noncompliance to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is uniformly poor across India. Yet, the surge in cases is seen only in 19 States, and mainly in about a dozen States. In the absence of timely results of such studies, which will help policy […]

What is driving the second wave in India? — Science Chronicle

Just the use of the phrase “double mutant variant” sends chills up my spinal cord.

Covid-19: Why Peru suffers from one of the highest excess death rates in the world

Cultural norms draw people together, increasing chances of transmission. Most Peruvians shop daily. Stocking up with a weekly shop would mean breaking a lifelong habit. It’s also impossible for the 40% who do not have a refrigerator.5 As a result, markets quickly became a major vector of the disease. As many as 86% of people in Lima’s markets tested positive during the first wave of cases in May 2020.6 Then-president Martín Vizcarra acknowledged the crisis but did not shut markets down because of the need to supply food.

Covid-19: Why Peru suffers from one of the highest excess death rates in the world — BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n611 (Published 09 March 2021)

A sad but very informative article on the Covid-19 situation in Peru.

Can 2020 Get Any Worse? (si)

Until now, there had been only one confirmed case of Chapare virus, an Ebola-like illness that turned up in the rural Bolivian province of Chapare in 2004 and then disappeared. But in 2019, at least five more people caught the bug, according to research now made public. The virus spread from person to person through bodily fluids in a region near Bolivia’s capital city of La Paz, killing three people. There are no active outbreaks of Chapare in 2020, and even in the event of further outbreaks the virus would be unlikely to cause a pandemic, according to virus experts.

There are reasons to be concerned about the news, however. Three of the five confirmed patients from the 2019 outbreak were health care workers, according to a CDC statement; a “young medical resident,” an ambulance medic and a gastroenterologist all contracted Chapare after contact with bodily fluids from infected patients. Two of them died.

Deadly hemorrhagic fever in Bolivia can spread between people — https://www.livescience.com/chapare-virus-human-transmission.htm

In my next life I want to come back as an Infectious Disease specialist.

Older Adults Living with Younger People Face Increased Risk for COVID-19 Mortality (if you’re Swedish)

Older adults who live with younger people, including those of working age, are at increased risk for COVID-19 mortality, according to a study in The Lancet Healthy Longevity.

Using Swedish population and death registries, researchers studied nearly 275,000 adults aged 70 or older in Stockholm. Roughly 3400 died between March and May 2020, 38% from COVID-19.

Those who lived with at least one person younger than 66 years had a 60% increased risk for COVID-19 death relative to those living with older people. In addition, those living in the most densely populated neighborhoods had a 70% higher risk than those in the least densely populated areas, and those living in care homes had over four times the risk of those in independent housing.

NEJM Journal Watch — https://www.jwatch.org/fw117174/2020/10/27/older-adults-living-with-younger-people-face-increased

Check out the recent Time article for an excellent overview of the Swedish Covid-19 response:

The Swedish way has yielded little but death and misery. And, this situation has not been honestly portrayed to the Swedish people or to the rest of the world.

The Swedish COVID-19 Response Is a Disaster. — https://time.com/5899432/sweden-coronovirus-disaster/

Africa’s Covid-19 Death Rate

The most widely accepted factor is Africa’s youthful population. Only about 3 per cent of Africans are over the age of 65, the age group in which illness and death from the coronavirus are most common. (By comparison, about 18 per cent of Canada’s population is over the age of 65.)

Africa’s low COVID-19 death rate has multiple causes, WHO says — https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-africas-low-covid-19-death-rate-has-multiple-causes-who-says/
  • Case fatality rate of 2.4
  • lower testing rates
  • youthful population
  • 90% of cases in people <65 years of age
  • more rural areas, more time outdoors
  • strict lock downs early
  • poor road network, limited international flights

Today’s Old are “Younger” (if you are a Finlander)

Hundreds of Finlanders aged 75-80 were given a battery of physical and cognitive tests 30 years ago. The same tests were recently repeated, in 2017-2018, with Finlanders aged 75-80. The modern group showed substantial differences:

walking speeds .2-.4 meters per second faster

grip strengths 5%-25% stronger

knee extension strengths 20%-47% higher

better verbal fluency, reasoning, and working memory

This means that the modern group moves and thinks “younger.” “Performance measurements reflect one’s functional age,” says lead author Taina Rantanen, professor of gerontology and public health at the University of Jyväskylä.

Today’s Older People Really are Younger — https://www.fastcompany.com/90554646/todays-older-people-really-are-younger-than-in-previous-generations

You can access the study abstract here: https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/gerona/glaa224/5901594?redirectedFrom=fulltext

And if you’re Covid obsessed like I am here you go:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:COVID-19_pandemic_data/Finland_medical_cases_chart

I would not extrapolate the older age study findings to the general population. Clearly there are cultural, societal, dietary, climate and other differences in Finland that do not exist elsewhere. But at my age I’ll take good news about getting older anywhere I can find it.

Finland is different. They developed a real interesting rapid Covid-19 test.

Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that Finnish researchers hope will provide a cheap, fast and effective alternative method of testing people for the virus.

‘Close to 100% accuracy’: Helsinki airport uses sniffer dogs to detect Covid — https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/24/close-to-100-accuracy-airport-enlists-sniffer-dogs-to-test-for-covid-19

Covid-19 in Uruguay

The swift action of the government slowed the spread of the virus and bought the country vital time to prepare its hospitals and testing system, says the team of scientists advising it. It also meant they could stop the virus’s spread before it became exponential as it did in the hardest hit nations.

“By acting really fast we were able to completely identify and stop the transmission chain of the disease in every [outbreak],” says Rafael Radi, a biochemist at Montevideo’s University de la Republica leading the government’s advisory group.

Epidemiologists traced the first outbreak to a wedding, where all attendees were tested and suspected infections isolated within 24 hours. The same approach was employed at the three subsequent outbreaks: a mental health care hospital, a care home for the elderly, and the city of Rivera, bordering Brazil. The result was that most local transmission chains have been controlled at the second or third ration of contacts,4 before their spread accelerated

https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3575 (Published 18 September 2020) BMJ 2020;370:m3575

Spain – a Squatter’s Paradise

For many people, squatting is a desperate last resort, while for some it is a lifestyle choice or a political statement. Barcelona, which is ground zero of Spain’s squatting phenomenon, attracts squatters from all over Europe. In recent years, more and more young locals — including many with jobs — who have been priced out of the rental market or who simply don’t want to pay the inflated rents have also turned to squatting.

https://wolfstreet.com/2020/09/12/how-spain-became-a-squatters-paradise/

If you live in a part of the world that is blessed with a year round moderate climate this phenomenon is coming to your town.

Meanwhile in Argentina…

In Argentina, they have gone beyond just squatting. Lands with no buildings on them are being occupied, houses build on them and people moves there, sometimes in just a few weeks. Once the illegal houses are occupied getting the people out and the houses destroyed is not easy. That already was a problem before quarantine but during quarantine? It has got a lot worse. And of course there is squatting too.

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