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Coronavirus

Loss of smell is permanent in COVID-19 patients

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Late last year, Health Patrol had published a report1 on the loss of taste and smell in COVID-19 patients, that suggested that studies are underway. Four months later, we have more updates to share on this subject.

Early in the pandemic, many people infected with the Coronavirus were losing their sense of smell even in the absence of other symptoms. Studies showed that people could lose their sense of taste and their ability to detect chemically triggered sensations such as spiciness, called chemesthesis. A news article2 published in the world-renowned journal Nature, has collated data on this and reports that almost a year later, some patients have still not recovered these senses, and for a few of people who have, odors are now distorted stating “unpleasant scents have taken the place of normally delightful ones”. 

While the exact percentage varies between studies, most reports suggest that loss of smell (anosmia) is a common symptom. A review3 from June 2020 compiled data from 8,438 people with COVID-19 and found that 41% had reported experiencing smell loss. In a similar study4, 2 months later, a team led by researcher Shima T. Moein at the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences in Tehran, Iran, administered a smell-identification test to 100 people with COVID-19 in which the patients sniffed odors and identified them on a multiple-choice basis. 96% of the participants had some olfactory dysfunction, and 18% had total smell loss.

In fact, some clinicians and researchers say that smell loss should be used as a diagnostic test for COVID-19. A study5 found that self-reported changes in smell or taste were a better marker of the spread of infection.

Although the mechanisms are not fully understood, there is an emerging consensus that smell loss occurs when the coronavirus infects cells that support neurons in the nose. A team led by Dr. Sandeep Robert Datta6, a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, has reported that cells that support sensory neurons in the nose are probably what the virus is infecting. However, whether this is permanent, or the symptoms are one where the smells or fragrances may be distorted and unclear, remains to be seen. As of now, it is clear that these occur and the recovery is sporadic.

Source

1 https://healthpatrol.in/2020/10/13/is-loss-of-taste-and-smell-permanent-post-covid-19/
2 Marshall M. COVID’s toll on smell and taste: what scientists do and don’t know. Nature. 2021;589:342-43.
3 Agyeman AA, ChinKL, Landersdorfer CB, et al. Mayo Clin. Proc. 2020;95:1621–31.
4 Moein ST, HashemianSM, TabarsiP & Doty RL. Int. Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2020;10:1127–35.
5 Pierron, D. et al. Nature Commun. 11, 5152 (2020).
6 Brann, D. H. et al. Sci. Adv. 6, eabc5801 (2020).

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      February 12, 2021 at 6:34 am

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Coronavirus

Dos and don’ts for vacay activities

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It is not a one size fits all when it comes to vacations or holidays because every family has a different demographic – some may have small kids who need to be taken to a washroom very often, some may have elderly who cannot sit too long during road trips. Therefore, every family should decide based on their own family size, needs and facilities. Traveling will inevitably lead to exposures to unvaccinated kids and adults. But the risk will be decided based on the extent of that exposure.

Masks reduce transmission and have been proven to be an effective tool with vaccination. Wearing a mask indoors and in public spaces further cuts down on risk considerably.

Before you travel:

  1. Get your RTPCR test done

While traveling:

  1. Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth at all times when you are in public places or around individuals that cannot maintain a safe distance of 6 feet away from you.
  2. Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet/2 meters from anyone who you do not know personally with their health history.
  3. Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

When you return from your vacation:

  1. If you see any signs of COVID, get tested and isolate yourself from other family members as well.
  2. Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  3. If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  4. Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.

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Coronavirus

It hasn’t affected kids till now – it won’t affect them ever

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Schools reopening across the globe has brought about a sense of panic in some parents and a sense of confidence in others because vaccination for children is yet to come and unvaccinated children are both at direct risk for COVID as well as at risk of transmitting the virus to others.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), data suggests that children under the age of 18 years represent about 8.5% of reported cases, with relatively few deaths compared to other age groups and usually mild disease. However, cases of critical illness have been reported. As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children. Further studies are underway to assess the risk of infection in children and to better understand transmission in this age group.

Although research has shown that children develop severe disease from COVID-19 far less commonly than adults, and therefore, the risk of death due to severity of COVID-19 is also much lower in children. However, they are not immune. There are reports of children dying due to COVID-19.  But even when children do not get seriously ill with COVID-19 or show symptoms, they can still transmit the virus to other children and adults. The rate of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is roughly half the rate of adult-to-child transmission. So even when the risk is low for children, transmission to other unvaccinated kids and adults is still a serious concern.

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Coronavirus

Vaccination can help us tide over the third wave

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The  second wave is declining, although up to 30-40,000 daily new cases continue to be recorded. India is far from being a COVID-19 free nation. Moreover, the looming third wave and alerts released by different State heads to be prepared for a third wave or to make adequate arrangements for the third wave in terms of oxygen cylinders, beds, critical care wards, etc. has kept us all on our toes and inside homes for fear of expediting the arrival of the third wave.

Eminent virologist and retired professor (CMC Vellore), Dr. T Jacob John, in a recent media interview said if the Government can do justice to the vaccination, in terms of making it available in abundance and everywhere, even the unlikely probability of a third wave can be mitigated, adding that in other words, the third wave can be and must be prevented with vaccination. Dr. John also believes that the two strong waves of COVID-19 pandemic in India would have created high herd-immunity, which is why even a moderate level of vaccination will surely avert the third wave.

We should continue to follow physical distancing protocols and avoid crowding indoors or outdoors as much as possible.

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Coronavirus

Complete vaccinated individuals three times less likely to get COVID-19

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In what comes as more evidence to back completing the (two-dose or one-dose) mandated course for vaccinations for COVID-19, a recent update published by the Imperial College London has shown that people who have received both doses of their coronavirus vaccine are three times less likely to get infected with COVID-19. These results from the 13th round of the Imperial-led REACT-1 study, a major coronavirus monitoring programme, are based on swab tests taken by almost 100,000 people in England between 24 June and 12 July. 

According to their website, REACT (REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission) is a series of studies that are using home testing to improve the understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic is progressing across England. This major research programme was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and is being carried out by Imperial College London in partnership with Ipsos MORI and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The analysis by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, which had almost 100,000 volunteers taking part in the study in England between June 24 and July 12, suggests that double vaccinated people are also less likely to pass on the virus to others. Results have also indicated that people who were fully vaccinated were less likely to be carriers of infection to pass the virus on to others, because they have a lower viral load on average and therefore shed less virus. 

In his statement to the Press post release of study results, the UK Vaccines Minister Mr. Nadhim Zahawi also stated, “these results show the positive impact of the vaccination program with those who are double jabbed three times less likely than unvaccinated people to get the virus and less likely to pass on this awful disease to those around them”.

It is important to note that no vaccine has 100% efficacy but benefits outweigh the risks and therefore vaccination is an important step towards curbing the pandemic. Vaccination however, must also be complemented by COVID appropriate behavior.

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Coronavirus

Breastfeeding post vaccination can kill your baby

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There isn’t any research to support this claim, and based on how vaccines work, there is no reason to believe that the vaccine could harm mom or baby. In fact studies support the fact that the vaccines are not excreted into the breast milk, but antibodies produced by mothers in response to the COVID-19 vaccine do — providing hope that breastfed babies might have some level of protection.

A report published in the journal Nature states that COVID-19 vaccines do not carry a risk of igniting an active infection and that they are extremely unlikely to cross into breast milk. The report further elaborates how the fragile messenger RNA used in the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, is designed to break down so quickly that it should never leave the cells where it was injected. Therefore, it cannot get into the bloodstream and then the breast. In fact, experts believe none of the current vaccines will be excreted into breast milk.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) Guidance also recommends that mothers continue to breastfeed after vaccination. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation issued statements shortly after the first vaccines were authorized in both countries recommending COVID-19 vaccination for breastfeeding women.

Australia’s Department of Health has indicated that breastfeeding women can get an approved COVID-19 vaccine and don’t need to stop breastfeeding before or after. 

Therefore, in conclusion, no safety concerns have been identified in lactating women who have been vaccinated. Women can continue to breastfeed pre and post COVID-19 vaccination.

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