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  • How to protect nursing homes (#2)
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El Pais

The vicious enemy that has forced billions of people into hiding in their homes is a tiny ball measuring about 70 millionths of a millimeter, making it to a human being what a chicken is to the entire planet. And this is humanity’s great adversary. Known to scientists as SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus is just a very short message written in different combinations of the same four letters. Each letter is the initial of a chemical compound containing different amounts of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. It is these four letters (a, u, g, c) that have written the code that has killed more than 300,000 people since it was first was detected little more than four months ago.


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The intensity of the COVID crisis can be traced to the particular characteristics of this virus. Here El Pais, using an innovative, visual approach, looks into the importance of the genetic sequence ccu cgg cgg gca.

ProPublica

At Rhode Island nursing homes, experts say a lack of available testing overshadowed the efforts of staff in preventing the virus’ spread. Lakesha Lopez took every precaution but still ended up in the hospital, one floor below the center’s receptionist.


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Baylor College of Medicine

The goal of a vaccine is to trigger a response that safely protects against an infection and/or the burden of disease. While this is true for all vaccines, the steps leading to a safe and effective product can be different for each infection. In the case of COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital have found that vaccine design can face specific challenges and that vaccine development approaches require an understanding of how the immune system naturally responds to a specific infection as well as how vaccines might trigger specific protective responses.


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The Lancet

The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is growing steeply and spreading widely. As of March 26, national incidence surpassed every other country, and as of April 28 has reported over a million cases. The COVID-19 crisis is exposing the systemic frailties in our healthcare system. More than 78 million people in America do not have access to adequate health insurance [1]. Given that health insurance in the US is typically provided by employers, millions more are at risk of losing their healthcare coverage as unemployment surges. Here we discuss how the pervasive healthcare insecurity in the US hampers control of COVID-19. Further, we argue that universal healthcare would alleviate the cost barriers that are impeding control of this pandemic.


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The Conversation

A few months ago, most people had never heard of the R number. Now, thanks to the novel coronavirus, we all know – or think we know – what it means.


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University of Oxford

Older age, being male, deprivation, living in a densely populated area, ethnicity, obesity, and chronic kidney disease are associated with a positive test for COVID-19, according to results from 3,802 people tested for SARS-CoV-2 (including 587 positive tests) in the UK.


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Healio

The various cognitive impairments collectively known as “chemo brain” can cause anxiety, frustration and difficulty with everyday tasks for cancer survivors.


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The Conversation

In 1849, a cholera epidemic that was sweeping through Britain reached West Riding Asylum in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The deadly disease soon spread through the wards. Searching for the source of the outbreak, the consulting physician eventually settled on an individual who had been admitted while ill. The doctor described this unfortunate patient as the “unconscious messenger of death”.


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Colorado Springs Gazette

Dr. Gary Moore, of Star Dental Institute works on patient Eric Lang while a device that creates a negative pressure environment, similar to those used in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. The dental office used to have an open floor plan, but since the outbreak of COVID-19, walls have been constructed to create isolation suites.


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COVID has of course dramatically affected how healthcare is delivered with everything from elective surgeries to telemedicine. Here Stephanie Earls in Colorado writes about what it might look like in the years to come by going to the dentist.

Newsweek

Scientists have created millions of human cells in mouse embryos, in a technique which they hope could one day be used in a variety of ways, from growing organs for life-saving transplants to finding treatments for diseases including COVID-19.


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MIT

When there’s a vexing problem to be solved, people sometimes offer metaphorical advice such as “stretching the mind” or engaging in “flexible” thinking, but in confronting a problem facing many biomedical research labs, a team of MIT researchers has engineered a solution that is much more literal. To make imaging cells and molecules in brain and other large tissues easier while also making samples tough enough for years of handling in the lab, they have come up with a chemical process that makes tissue stretchable, compressible and pretty much indestructible.


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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE – The new coronavirus has spread like wildfire, killed — and spared — people of all ages and all health conditions, baffled doctors, defied guidance and conventional wisdom, and produced an unprecedented array of symptoms.


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Star Tribune

Minnesota leads the nation in the rate of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care.


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NBC Palm Spring

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. hospitals have faced a number of shortages with critical personal protective equipment (PPE) namely, the N95 respirator mask.


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CDC

Following a 2.5-hour choir practice attended by 61 persons, including a symptomatic index patient, 32 confirmed and 20 probable secondary COVID-19 cases occurred (attack rate = 53.3% to 86.7%); three patients were hospitalized, and two died. Transmission was likely facilitated by close proximity (within 6 feet) during practice and augmented by the act of singing.


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STAT News

WASHINGTON — Michelle McMurry-Heath doesn’t talk about biotech the way her peers do.


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Nature

As coronavirus vaccines hurtle through development, scientists are getting their first look at data that hint at how well different vaccines are likely to work. The picture, so far, is murky.


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Guardian

As quarantine measures are slowly lifted in the UK, the virus will continue to spread unless the government puts in place a strategy to curb the rate of infection. Contact tracing, a practice long used in public health to control infectious diseases, will be crucial to driving down the rate of infection, or R, and minimising further cases of coronavirus.


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STAT News

A secretive experiment revealed this week, in which neurosurgeons transplanted brain cells into a patient with Parkinson’s disease, made medical history. It was the first time such “reprogrammed” cells, produced from stem cells that had been created in the lab from the man’s own skin cells, had been used to try to treat the degenerative brain disease. But it was also a bioethics iceberg, with some issues in plain sight and many more lurking.


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Nature

Immunosuppressive agents used in the management of glomerular diseases and kidney transplant recipients (Supplementary Table 1) have an inherent potential to cause lymphopenia and/or impair lymphocyte function. In the absence of specific therapy for SARS-CoV-2 infections, most nephrology societies have issued recommendations to reduce immunosuppression to levels that are considered safe, while acknowledging that balancing the risk of infections against the aim of disease control can be intricate even under ‘normal’ circumstances. However, such an approach is not feasible for patients with a de novo diagnosis of immune-mediated kidney disease, disease relapse or transplant rejection.


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Harvard Medical School

A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Socios En Salud, and the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT report they have identified the single largest genetic contributor to height known to date.


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Speaking of genes, researchers are constantly looking at what makes up us, humans. Here Harvard explains new research based on the differing populations of Peru.

Nature

Tackle coronavirus in vulnerable communities The pandemic has hit care homes, prisons and low-income communities hardest. Researchers are ready to help, but need data to be collected and shared.


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USA Today

Paul Romer, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, envisions a day when all Americans are tested regularly for COVID-19, and they present proof when dining out or visiting a dentist. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that if a “big peak” of coronavirus floods hospitals this winter, “we have the potential here to go through days we have not seen since World War II. … As a nation, we will not be ready.”


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National Post

What went wrong? What can Canada do to fix it before the next wave hits? This look at the missteps by public health officials is part of the Post’s Lessons from the pandemic series


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CNN

Still, there’s one more aspect to infection that has received less attention. Growing evidence suggests that Covid-19 infection, like with other illnesses, is related to prolonged time exposed to the virus. The longer you stay in an environment that may contain the virus, the higher the risk of getting sick.


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