Coronavirus Update for July 8, 2020

Your coronavirus update for July 8; stay up to date with Elite.

More than 11.5 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed worldwide as of Monday evening, including at least 537,000 deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported nearly 3 million positive COVID-19 patients and at least 132,000 deaths. Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

WHO Reportedly Receives Letter About Easy COVID Spread

The ease of airborne transmission of the coronavirus is the subject of an open letter than many reports claim was sent recently to officials at the World Health Organization (WHO).1 Specifically, the letter addresses the thoughts of more than 200 experts across more than 30 countries who claim the virus lingers indoors and infects those nearby as opposed to being primarily spread by large respiratory droplets that fall quickly to the ground after a cough or a sneeze. The letter, which is expected to be published in a to-be-named scientific journal, also reportedly calls for the WHO to revise its recommendations, such as the heavy promotion of handwashing as a primary prevention strategy, even though there is reportedly limited evidence for transmission of the virus from surfaces.1 According to one report, “if airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, the consequences for containment will be significant. Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially distant settings. Healthcare workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients. Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences, and businesses may need to minimize recirculating air and add powerful new filters. Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.”1

Mothers Experiencing More Anxiety, Depression During COVID-19 Pandemic

The incidence of anxiety and depression are said to be increasing among new mothers and pregnant women, according to a new study from the University of Alberta. The symptoms tend to stem from disruptions of daily life and the uncertainty of the future. The study, which interviewed 900 new mothers, also claims that the associated feelings are normal.2

Researchers reportedly found that 40.7% of new moms had depressive symptoms compared to 15% before the pandemic. The study also said that 72% of new mothers felt moderate to high anxiety, a 43% increase from the number of new mothers reporting anxiety before the pandemic.2 Experts also claim that the emotional impact of anxiety and depression could also leave a lasting physical impact on both mother and baby.

AIDS/HIV Care Negatively Affected By COVID-19

According to officials with the World Health Organization (WHO), 73 countries have warned that they are at risk of stock-outs of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to a survey conducted by WHO ahead of the International AIDS Society’s biannual conference, 24 countries report having either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply. The survey follows a modelling exercise convened by WHO and UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS) in May which forecasted that a six-month disruption in access to ARVs could lead to a doubling in AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 alone.3

A failure of suppliers to deliver ARVs on time and a shut-down of land and air transport services, coupled with limited access to health services within countries as a result of the pandemic, were among the causes cited for the disruptions in the survey, the WHO reports.

“The findings of this survey are deeply concerning,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, director-general of the WHO, in a prepared statement. “Countries and their development partners must do all they can to ensure that people who need HIV treatment continue to access it. We cannot let the COVID-19 pandemic undo the hard-won gains in the global response to this disease.”

HIV prevention and testing services are not reaching the groups that need them most, according to the recent report. WHO officials have developed guidance for countries on how to safely maintain access to essential health services during the pandemic, including for all people living with or affected by HIV. The guidance encourages countries to limit disruptions in access to HIV treatment through “multi-month dispensing,” a policy whereby medicines are prescribed for longer periods of time, with 129 countries reportedly adopting this policy.

Countries are also mitigating the impact of the disruptions by working to maintain flights and supply chains, engaging communities in the delivery of HIV medicines, and working with manufacturers to overcome logistics challenges, WHO officials said.

According to the report, many HIV/AIDS-related deaths result from infections that take advantage of an individual’s weakened immune system. These include bacterial infections, viral infections, such as COVID-19, parasitic infections, and fungal infections.

WHO officials have also released new guidelines for the diagnosis and management of histoplasmosis among people living with HIV/AIDS.4 

In May, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved a new 5mg formulation of dolutegravir for infants and children older than 4 weeks and weighing more than 3 kg, a decision that reportedly will ensure that all children have rapid access to an optimal drug that previously had only been available for adults, adolescents, and older children.5

Thank you for joining us for your coronavirus update for July 8. If you missed last week’s article, please consider reading it here.

References

1. Mandavilli A. 239 experts with 1 big claim: the coronavirus is airborne. New York Times. 2020. Accessed online: https://news.yahoo.com/239-experts-1-big-claim-151916602.html

  1. Carrington AE. Anxiety, depression increasing among mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic. ABC News. 2020. Accessed online: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/anxiety-depression-increasing-mothers-covid-19-pandemic
  2. WHO: access to HIV medicines severely impacted by COVID-19 as AIDS response stalls. WHO. 2020. Accessed online: www.who.int/news-room/detail/06-07-2020-who-access-to-hiv-medicines-severely-impacted-by-covid-19-as-aids-response-stalls
  3. Histoplasmosis. WHO. 2020. Accessed online: www.who.int/ith/diseases/histoplasmosis/en
  4. FDA approves drug to treat infants and children with HIV. FDA. 2020. Accessed online: www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-drug-treat-infants-and-children-hiv

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