Amid disaster in India, coronavirus restrictions easing in US, Europe

Americans help India cope with its crushing COVID crisis

Mount Sinai medical system’s Dr. Ash Tewari and his team send ventilators and oxygen equipment to save lives

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Air travel in the U.S. hit its highest mark since COVID-19 took hold more than 13 months ago, while European Union officials are proposing to ease restrictions on visitors to the continent as the vaccine sends new cases and deaths tumbling in more affluent countries.

The improving picture in many places contrasts with the worsening disaster in India.

In the U.S., the average number of new cases per day fell below 50,000 for the first time since October. And nearly 1.67 million people were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the highest number since mid-March of last year.

‘HORRIBLE’ WEEKS AHEAD AS INDIA’S COVID-19 CRISIS WORSENS

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation giving him sweeping powers to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the outbreak. While the law doesn’t go into effect until July, the Republican governor said he will issue an executive order to more quickly get rid of local mask mandates.

“I think this creates a structure that’s going to be a little bit more respectful, I think, of people’s businesses, jobs, schools and personal freedom,” he said.

May 3, 2021: Relatives of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn outside a field hospital in Mumbai, India.
((AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool))

Las Vegas is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised Saturday to 80% and person-to-person distancing was dropped to 3 feet (0.9 meters). New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City’s subways will begin running all night again and capacity restrictions on most businesses will end statewide in mid-May. And Los Angeles County reported no coronavirus deaths on Sunday and Monday, some of which may be attributable to a lag in reporting but was nevertheless a hopeful sign that could move the county to allow an increase in capacity at events and venues, and indoor-service at bars.

EU officials also announced a proposal Monday to relax restrictions on travel to the 27-nation bloc this summer, though the final decision is up to its member countries.

“Time to revive EU tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle — safely,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation.”

In Greece, restaurants and cafes reopened their terraces on Monday after six months of shutdown, with customers flocking to soak up the sunshine. In France, high schools reopened and a ban on domestic travel was lifted.

The once hard-hit Czech Republic, where cases are now declining, announced it will allow people to remove face coverings at all outdoor spaces starting next Monday if they keep their distance from others.

But with more-contagious variants taking hold, efforts are underway to boost vaccination efforts, which have begun to lag. The average number of doses given per day fell 27% from a high of 3.26 million on April 11 to 2.37 million last Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Detroit, teams from the city’s health department have knocked on nearly 5,000 doors since the weekend to persuade people to get immunized. And Massachusetts’ governor announced plans to close four of seven mass vaccination sites by the end of June in favor of a more targeted approach.

“My plea to everyone: Get vaccinated now, please,” President Joe Biden said in Norfolk, Virginia. He stressed that he has worked hard to make sure there are more than 600 million doses of vaccine — enough for all Americans to get both doses.

April 24, 2021: Las Vegas is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised Saturday, May 1, to 80% and person-to-person distancing dropped to 3 feet (0.9 meters). 
(AP Photo/John Locher)

“We’re going to increase that number across the board as well so we can also be helping other nations once we take care of all Americans,” the president said.

Brazil, once the epicenter of the pandemic, has been overtaken by a surge in India that has overrun crematoriums and made it clear the p andemic is far from over.

As the U.S. and other countries rushed in aid, India reported nearly 370,000 new cases and more than 3,400 deaths Monday — numbers that experts believe are vast undercounts because of a widespread lack of testing and incomplete reporting.

In Germany, Bavarian officials canceled Oktoberfest for a second year in a row because of the safety risks. The beer-drinking festivities typically attract about 6 million visitors from around the world.

And in Italy, medical experts and politicians expressed concern about a possible spike in infections after tens of thousands of jubilant soccer fans converged on Milan’s main square Sunday to celebrate Inter Milan’s league title.

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Study examines movement in children with autism

UTEP study examines movement in children with autism

For more than a year, researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso’s Stanley E. Fulton Gait Research & Movement Analysis Lab in the College of Health Sciences have been using real-time 3-D animation to investigate motor impairments in children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Their aim is to understand how children with autism can learn motor skills, so that they can receive effective therapies.

The results of their study, titled “Children With Autism Exhibit More Individualized Responses to Live Animation Biofeedback Than Do Typically Developing Children,” were recently published in the journal of Perceptual and Motor Skills. The paper’s release coincides with National Autism Awareness Month in April.

“The greatest takeaway from this study is that when teaching or coaching new movements to an individual with autism, the teacher or coach needs to understand the individual with autism’s specific motor learning characteristics,” said Jeffrey Eggleston, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology and Gait lab director. He is the study’s lead author. “They need to look specifically at each child’s needs because each child is different.”

The study’s other authors include Alyssa N. Olivas, a student in the doctoral biomedical engineering program; Heather R. Vanderhoof and Emily A. Chavez, students in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (IHS) doctoral program; Carla Alvarado, M.D., board certified psychiatrist; and Jason B. Boyle, Ph.D., associate professor and interim chair of Kinesiology at UTEP.

More than 80% of children with ASD have gross motor skills issues, such as problems with balance and coordination, which can interfere with their communication and social interactions.

The 18-month UTEP study incorporated live animation biofeedback to teach 15 children who have ASD and were between the ages of 8 and 17 how to do a squat, a strength exercise that works multiple muscle groups in the body’s lower extremities.

Researchers compared their movement patterns to children without the disorder. They found that children with ASD displayed highly individualized responses to the live animation biofeedback, much more so than children with typical development, Eggleston said.

In the lab, children had 1-inch cubes called inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors strapped to their pelvis, thighs, lower legs and feet. They followed an animation model on a computer screen, which showed them how to squat. The children would then try to perform the squat without looking at the animation.

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Cancer rates in medieval Britain around ten times higher than previously thought, study suggests

Cancer rates in medieval Britain around ten times higher than previously thought, study suggests

The first study to use X-rays and CT scans to detect evidence of cancer among the skeletal remains of a pre-industrial population suggests that between 9-14% of adults in medieval Britain had the disease at the time of their death.

This puts cancer prevalence in a time before exposure to tumour-inducing chemicals from industry and tobacco at around ten times higher than previously thought, according to researchers.

Prior research into historic cancer rates using the archaeological record has been limited to examining the bone exterior for lesions. It suggested that cancer was rare, affecting less than 1% of the population.

A team led by the University of Cambridge have now coupled visual inspection with radiological imaging to analyse 143 skeletons from six medieval cemeteries in and around the city of Cambridge, UK, dating from the 6th to the 16th century.

The findings of the study are published today in the journal Cancer.

“The majority of cancers form in soft tissue organs long since degraded in medieval remains. Only some cancer spreads to bone, and of these only a few are visible on its surface, so we searched within the bone for signs of malignancy,” said lead author Dr. Piers Mitchell, who conducted the research as part of the ‘After the Plague’ project.

“Modern research shows a third to a half of people with soft tissue cancers will find the tumour spreads to their bones. We combined this data with evidence of bone metastasis from our study to estimate cancer rates for medieval Britain.”

“We think the total proportion of the medieval population that probably suffered with a cancer somewhere in their body was between nine and fourteen percent,” said Mitchell, from Cambridge University’s Department of Archaeology.

“Using CT scans we were able to see cancer lesions hidden inside a bone that looked completely normal on the outside,” said study co-author and After the Plague researcher Dr. Jenna Dittmar.

“Until now it was thought that the most significant causes of ill health in medieval people were infectious diseases such as dysentery and bubonic plague, along with malnutrition and injuries due to accidents or warfare.”

“We now have to add cancer as one of the major classes of disease that afflicted medieval people,” Dittmar said.

However, the researchers point out that in modern Britain some 40-50% of people have cancer by the time they die, making the disease 3-4 times more common today than the latest study suggests it was during medieval times.

They say that a variety of factors likely contribute to contemporary rates of the disease, such as the effects of tobacco, which began to be imported into Britain in the 16th century with the colonising of the Americas.

The researchers also point to the cancerous effects of pollutants that have become ubiquitous since the industrial revolution of the 18th century, as well as the possibility that DNA-damaging viruses are now more widespread with long-distance travel. Moreover, our longer lifespans give cancer much more time to develop.

The skeletal remains investigated for the latest study came from sites near three villages in the vicinity of Cambridge, as well as three cemeteries uncovered within the medieval centre of the university city, including the site of a former Augustinian friary, and the site of a former charitable hospital that cared for the sick and destitute (now part of St. John’s College).

Very few of the excavated remains were complete, so the team limited themselves to individuals with intact spinal column, pelvis and femora (thigh bones). Modern research shows these to be the bones most likely to contain secondary malignancies—or metastases—in people with cancer.

The remains of 96 men, 46 women, and an individual of unknown sex, had their vertebrae, femurs and pelvis inspected and then imaged using X-rays and CT scans. The team found signs of malignancy in the bones of five individuals—a minimum prevalence of 3.5%. These were mostly in the pelvis, although one middle-aged man had small lesions throughout his skeleton suggesting a form of blood cancer.

Research shows that CT scans detect bone metastases around 75% of the time, and only a third to half of cancer deaths involve spread to the bone, so the team projected that 9-14% of medieval Britons developed cancer.

However, they caution that the sample size is inevitably limited and diagnosing cancer in those lain dead for many centuries is somewhat challenging.

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Cell adaptation in critically ill could be difference between life and death, new study shows

Cell adaptation in critically ill could be difference between life and death, new study shows

Creating the best conditions for cells to make energy and survive critical illness is a challenge little understood in modern medicine. Now a new study led by scientists at the University of Plymouth, in collaboration with University College London and the Universities of Cambridge and Southampton, shows early signs that cells in some critically ill patients actually adapt to their conditions by producing energy more efficiently.

The research, published in the journal Redox Biology, took muscle and blood samples over seven days from 21 critically ill patients (ie those with two or more organs failing) in intensive care, and 12 healthy people, comparing cells’ behavior.

The study showed that all of the critically ill patients produced energy more efficiently than healthy people, in a pattern of changes that has previously been identified in cells adapting to low oxygen levels. There were also differences in the ways cells produced energy in the patients who survived, compared to those who died.

So how was this measured?

In mitochondria (the powerhouses of our cells), structures known as ‘complexes’ transport electrons, which, facilitated by oxygen inhalation, effectively becomes the fuel driving our cells.

The study showed that the capacity of one of these complexes was 27% lower in survivors than in non-survivors after 48 hours of illness, but tended to increase in seven days, with no such recovery observed in non-survivors.

This means that, despite this complex appearing to work at a lower rate, the cells were adapting to the adverse conditions of the critical illness, and coming out the other side.

The work was funded by the Intensive Care Society, and forms part of the University of Plymouth’s expertise in intensive care medicine, which explores oxygen deprivation and the body’s ability to cope in hostile conditions.

It also builds on principles of Nobel prize-winning research from 2019, by William Kaelin, Sir Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza, which uncovered how cells respond to changes in oxygen levels.

Lead author Dr. Helen McKenna, National Institute for Health Research Academic Clinical Fellow at the University of Plymouth, explains why the new work is important.

“When a body is going through trauma, there’s the temptation to think we need to give more oxygen or stimulate cells to survive,” she said. “However, this research suggests that some cells can actually adapt to the conditions they’re in. Of course the next question to answer is why some people’s cells behave in this way while others’ don’t. It could be genetics, age or previous exposure to trauma—we don’t yet know. But uncovering this cell behavior in the first place is a really important step. If we can unravel the cellular and molecular foundation of human resilience, we can enable the development of more effective life-support strategies.”

The senior authors on the study were Professor Dan Martin from the University of Plymouth, Dr. Andrew Murray at the University of Cambridge and Professor Martin Feelisch at the University of Southampton.

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Novel agent shows promise in treating the most aggressive type of breast cancer

breast cancer

A unique antibody drug conjugate (ADC), which delivers a high dose of a cancer-killing drug to tumor cells through a targeted antibody, has been found in a global phase 3 clinical study to nearly double the survival time of patients with refractory metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. The study of the ADC drug sacituzumab govitecan (SG), for which Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) was a lead clinical research site after serving as the lead site for the pivotal phase 1/2 trial, reported superior outcomes compared to single-agent chemotherapy, the standard for treating metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. The phase 3 results of the study, known as ASCENT, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Favorable results with SG versus chemotherapy were observed in terms of progression-free survival (the length of time the cancer was kept from spreading); the amount of time between the start of treatment and cancer progression; and overall survival—the length of time before death from any cause,” says global principal investigator Aditya Bardia, MD, MPH, an attending physician in the Department of Medical Oncology at Mass General Cancer Center. “These statistically significant findings give patients with this devastating disease new cause for hope. We need to build on that progress and accelerate further development of antibody drug conjugates and combination therapies for patients with breast cancer.”

Metastatic triple-negative breast cancer is the most aggressive type of breast cancer with a poor prognosis. Chemotherapy has remained the only standard treatment option, but it is associated with low response rates and short progression-free survival. SG, which was developed and is manufactured by Immunomedics, a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences, received accelerated approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2020 on the basis of favorable phase 1/2 clinical trials, with full approval contingent on the confirmatory phase 3 results.

ASCENT is a global study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the antibody drug conjugate compared to chemotherapy in 529 patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer whose cancer had relapsed or was resistant to at least two other forms of therapy. The investigators found that median progression-free survival with the ADC agent was 5.6 months compared to 1.7 months with chemotherapy, and that median overall survival was 12.1 months with the ADC agent compared to 6.7 months with chemotherapy. The study also found that the response rate— that is, shrinkage in the size of the metastatic tumor sites—was 35% after administration of ADC compared to 5% with chemotherapy.

ADCs are complex molecules that combine the targeting capabilities of monoclonal antibodies with the cancer-killing strength of cytotoxic drugs. In the case of sacituzumab govitecan, the monoclonal antibody seeks out the antigen (or protein), known as Trop-2 that is overexpressed on the surface of tumor cells, and delivers the anti-cancer drug SN-38 in a highly concentrated dose that destroys cancerous cells while sparing normal ones. ADCs have been established as a treatment option for HER2-positive breast cancer.

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Differing immune responses discovered in asymptomatic cases versus those with severe COVID-19

covid

The largest study of its type in the UK has identified differences in the immune response to COVID-19 between people with no symptoms and those suffering a more serious reaction to the virus.

Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Newcastle University, University College London, University of Cambridge, EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and their collaborators within the Human Cell Atlas initiative, found raised levels of specific immune cells in asymptomatic people. They also showed people with more serious symptoms had lost these protective cell types, but gained inflammatory cells. These differences in the immune response could help explain serious lung inflammation and blood clotting symptoms, and could be used to identify potential targets for developing therapies.

The research, published today (20th April 2021) in Nature Medicine, is one of the only studies to include people who were asymptomatic. This large-scale collaborative study is part of the Human Cell Atlas initiative to map every cell type in the human body, to transform our understanding of health, infection and disease.

So far, the COVID-19 global pandemic has caused millions of deaths and many more infections worldwide. Symptoms vary widely in severity and can range from a mild cough to severe respiratory distress, blood clots and organ failure. Several previous studies have highlighted a complex immune response in the blood, but until now the full coordinated immune response and how this differs between symptomatic and asymptotic patients had not been investigated in detail.

In a new study to understand how different immune cells responded to the infection, a large team of researchers came together to analyze blood from 130 people with COVID-19. These patients came from three different UK centers (Newcastle, Cambridge and London) and ranged from asymptomatic to critically severe.

The team performed single-cell sequencing from ~800,000 individual immune cells, along with detailed analysis of cell surface proteins and antigen receptors found on immune cells in the blood. They revealed differences in multiple types of immune cells that are involved in the body’s response to COVID-19.

In those with no symptoms, the team found increased levels of B cells that produce antibodies that are found in mucus passages, such as the nose. These antibodies may be one of our first line of defense in COVID-19. However, these protective B cells were missing in people with serious symptoms, indicating the importance of an effective antibody-associated immune response at the nose and other mucus passages.

The team discovered that whereas patients with mild to moderate symptoms, had high levels of B cells and helper T-cells, which help fight infection, those with serious symptoms had lost many of these immune cells, suggesting that this part of the immune system had failed in people with severe disease.

In contrast, people with more serious symptoms leading to hospitalization had an uncontrolled increase in monocytes and killer T-cells, high levels of which can lead to lung inflammation. Those with severe disease also had raised levels of platelet-producing cells, which help blood to clot.

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa, senior author from Newcastle University and Senior Clinical Fellow at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “This is one of the only studies of its kind that looks at samples collected from asymptomatic people, which helps us start to understand why some people react differently to COVID-19 infection. It could also explain symptoms such as lung inflammation and blood clots. The immune system is made up of lots of different groups of cells, similar to the way an orchestra is made up of different groups of instruments, and in order to understand the coordinated immune response, you have to look at these immune cells together.”

While it is not yet understood how the infection stimulates these immune responses, the study gives a molecular explanation for how COVID-19 could cause an increased risk of blood clotting and inflammation in the lungs, which can lead to the patient needing a ventilator. This also uncovers potential new therapeutic targets to help protect patients against inflammation and severe disease. For example, it may be possible to develop treatments that decrease platelet production or reduce the number of killer T-cells produced, however more research is required.

Professor Menna Clatworthy, senior author and Professor of Translational Immunology at the University of Cambridge and Wellcome Sanger Institute Associate Faculty, said: “This is one of the most detailed studies of immune responses in COVID-19 to date, and begins to help us understand why some people get really sick while others fight off the virus without even knowing they have it. This new knowledge will help identify specific targets for therapy for patients that get sick with COVID-19.”

In the future, research may identify those who are more likely to experience moderate to severe disease by looking at levels of these immune cells in their blood.

This study used samples from three centers in the UK, and found that some antibody responses were similar in individuals in one geographic area compared with those at a different center, hinting that this part of the immune response may be tailored to different variants of the virus.

Dr. John Marioni, senior author and head of research at EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Senior Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: “Using data from three different centers has allowed us to look at how people react to COVID-19 throughout the UK. The amount of data collected in this study has given us crucial insight into the immune reaction in various different severities of COVID-19 infection.”

Professor Berthold Göttgens, senior author and professor of molecular hematology at the University of Cambridge, said: “Along with the findings, the way this study was conducted is noteworthy, as it was a new way of doing biomedical science. By bringing different experts together, we were able to employ a divide and conquer approach, which allowed us to complete the work in extra quick time. This study required a large teamwork effort, in the middle of the pandemic when labs were being shut down. This was an incredibly rewarding study to work on, with everyone understanding the importance of the work and willing to go the extra mile.”

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UK researchers will deliberately reinfect people with COVID-19 in new ‘challenge study’

Researchers in the U.K. are looking for volunteers who have already had COVID-19 for a “challenge study” that will deliberately reexpose them to the novel coronavirus.

The goal of the study is to understand what immune response is needed to protect against reinfection with COVID-19, according to a statement from the University of Oxford, which has received approval to conduct the trial.

“If we could understand, in this really careful controlled way, exactly what kind of immune response is needed for protection [against reinfection], then we will be able to look at people who have natural infection and say whether or not they’re protected” against another infection, study chief investigator Dr. Helen McShane, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said in a video about the study

In a challenge study, people who are at low risk of serious outcomes are intentionally exposed to a pathogen in a controlled lab environment. Earlier this year, other researchers in the U.K. began challenge studies in people who hadn’t been infected with COVID-19, deliberately exposing them to very small doses of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. 

For the new study, the researchers are recruiting healthy people ages 18 to 30 who were infected with COVID-19 at least three months prior to entering the study and have antibodies against the novel coronavirus, according to The Guardian.

The study will have two phases. The first phase, which will include 24 volunteers, aims to determine the lowest dose of SARS-CoV-2 that can cause an infection while producing little or no symptoms in the volunteers. 

“We start with a really, really small amount of the virus … and we check that that’s safe,” and then increase the dose if necessary (if it’s too low to cause an infection in any of the volunteers), McShane said in the video. 

“Our target is to have 50% of our subjects infected but with no, or only very mild, disease,” McShane told The Guardian.

The second phase will involve another 10 to 40 participants who will receive the dose determined in the first phase. The researchers hope to learn what levels of antibodies, T cells and other immune system components protect against reinfection.

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After being exposed to the virus, all of the participants will be quarantined for 17 days and  monitored closely. They will undergo numerous tests, including CT scans of their lungs and MRIs of their hearts, the researchers said.

Any participants who develop symptoms of COVID-19 will be treated with Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies, which have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

The participants will be followed for at least eight months after they recover from their second infection. Each participant will receive nearly $7,000 (£5,000) for being included in the study, The Guardian reported.

The first phase of the study is expected to start this month, and the second phase is expected to begin in the summer, the researchers said.

Originally published on Live Science.   

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Japan expands virus alert in Tokyo area as surge spreads

Japan expands virus alert in Tokyo area as surge spreads

Japan is set to raise the coronavirus alert level in Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures and a forth area in central Japan to allow tougher measures as a more contagious coronavirus variant spreads, along with doubts whether the Olympics can go ahead.

The move comes only four days after Tokyo was placed on alert while the vaccination campaign has covered less than 1% of the population.

The government is expected to official approve the alert status for Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba and Aichi prefectures in central Japan at a meeting later Friday. It will allow heads of the prefectures to mandate shorter hours for bars and restaurants, along with punishments for violators and compensation for those who comply.

The measures are to begin Monday and continue through May 11.

Many of the cases have been linked to nightlife and dining spots, but they have recently spread to offices, elderly care facilities and schools.

Japan added some 4,300 cases on Wednesday for a total of about half a million with 9,500 deaths.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the measures cover the areas hit by rapid spikes fueled by a new virus variant first detected in the U.K.. “The government will respond firmly even during my U.S. trip,” he said before departing for Washington for talks with President Joe Biden.

Suga’s government has been criticized for being too slow in enacting anti-virus measures out of reluctance to further damage the economy.

The surge has also prompted concern among many Japanese about hosting the Tokyo Olympics July 23-Aug. 8. On Thursday, two top officials said there was a possibility the Games could be canceled or even if they proceed, it might be without fans.

The new alert comes with binding orders but only for businesses to close early while measures for residents are only requests, leading some experts to doubt their effectiveness.

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How common is stroke in people critically ill with COVID-19?

covid

A large, year-long study has found that among people with COVID-19 who were hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU), 2% experienced a stroke after they were admitted to the ICU. The preliminary study released today, April 15, 2021, will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 73rd Annual Meeting being held virtually April 17 to 22, 2021. The study also found that hemorrhagic stroke, a bleeding stroke, was associated with a higher risk of death among people in the ICU, but ischemic stroke, a stroke caused by a blood clot blocking an artery, was not.

“Stroke has been a known serious complication of COVID-19 with some studies reporting a higher-than-expected occurrence, especially in young people,” said study author Jonathon Fanning, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “However, among the sickest of patients, those admitted to an ICU, our research found that stroke was not a common complication and that a stroke from a blood clot did not increase the risk of death.”

Researchers used an international database of COVID-19 patients in 52 countries admitted to an ICU between January 1 and December 21, 2020. They identified 2,699 people who were admitted to an ICU for management of severe COVID-19 infection. Of those, 59 had a stroke. The people had an average age of 53.

Researchers evaluated the patient data at 370 hospital ICUs and found 59 people, or 2.2%, experienced a stroke during their stay in the ICU. Of those, 19 people, or 32%, had a stroke from a clot, 27 people, or 46%, had a bleeding stroke, and 13 people, or 22%, had an unspecified stroke.

Researchers determined that people who had a bleeding stroke had up to five times greater risk of death than people without stroke. However, people who had a stroke from a clot had no increased risk of death.

Of the people with bleeding stroke, 72% died, but of those, only 15% died of stroke. Instead, multiorgan failure was the leading cause of death.

“For people with COVID-19 in intensive care, our large study found that stroke was not common, and it was infrequently the cause of death,” said Fanning. “Still, COVID-19 is a new disease and mutations have resulted in new variants, so it’s important to continue to study stroke in people with the disease. More importantly, while the proportion of those with a stroke may not be as high as we initially thought, the severity of the pandemic means the overall absolute number of patients around the world who will suffer a stroke and the ongoing implications of that for years to come, could create a major public health crisis.”

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Can financial stress lead to physical pain in later years?

financial stress

Financial stress can have an immediate impact on well-being, but can it lead to physical pain nearly 30 years later? The answer is yes, according to new research from University of Georgia scientists.

The study, published in Stress & Health, reveals that family financial stress in midlife is associated with a depleted sense of control, which is related to increased physical pain in later years.

“Physical pain is considered an illness on its own with three major components: biological, psychological and social,” said Kandauda A.S. Wickrama, first author and professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “In older adults, it co-occurs with other health problems like limited physical functioning, loneliness and cardiovascular disease.”

Most pain research is neurological, but it’s important to also connect it to stressful family experiences, according to the researchers.

“Dr. Wickrama and I are both interested in the context surrounding families and how that context impacts the relational, physical and mental health of the individuals in the family,” said lead author Catherine Walker O’Neal, associate research scientist in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “Finances are an important component of our work because it’s such a relevant contextual stressor families face.”

The authors used data from the Iowa Youth and Family Project, a longitudinal study that provides 27 years of data on rural families from a cluster of eight counties in north-central Iowa. The data was collected in real time from husbands and wives in 500 families who experienced financial problems associated with the late 1980s farm crisis. Most of the individuals are now over 65 years old, and the couples are in enduring marriages—some as long as 45 years.

Even after the researchers controlled for concurrent physical illnesses, family income and age, they found a connection between family financial hardship in the early 1990s and physical pain nearly three decades later. Additional findings from their study show it’s more likely that financial strain influences physical pain, though physical pain can in turn influence financial strain through additional health care costs.

Physical pain is a biopsychosocial phenomenon, according to Wickrama. The research suggests that stressful experiences like financial strain erode psychological resources like a sense of control. This depletion of resources activates brain regions that are sensitive to stress, launching pathological, physiological and neurological processes that lead to health conditions like physical pain, physical limitations, loneliness and cardiovascular disease.

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