It’s important to stay on top of the news about COVID-19 because what we know changes so rapidly. The number of global cases and deaths continue to climb as scientists discover more about this highly contagious virus. One silver lining shown by new research is that those with asthma are not being hit as hard as expected. In New York, asthma isn’t even among the top 10 chronic health conditions people have when they pass away from the virus. People with asthma only amount to approximately 5% of fatal cases. Instead, here are the top 10 chronic illnesses in descending order:
- High Cholesterol
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Renal Disease
- Congestive Heart Failure
Especially for young adults, obesity has also been linked to severe cases of COVID-19. And, unfortunately, African Americans and Hispanic Americans are being disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus. So, anyone with the above-listed conditions or in the racial groups needs to be extra vigilant with preventative measures such as social distancing and hand washing.
What we know is that this virus spreads through respiratory droplets. So, if a person is infected and coughs or sneezes near you, you may become infected. We’re now also learning that just breathing and talking could be enough to transmit the virus as well. Aerosolized coronavirus particles also have the potential to linger in the air for up to three hours. So, it’s really important for everyone to wear a facemask when leaving their homes. A mask will help keep our saliva and potential germs from traveling when we cough, speak, or just breathe. Past research using a cough chamber found coughs that were not covered had the potential to travel six feet in approximately three seconds. Scientists are unsure if the coronavirus can travel this same distance and rate, but it is under investigation.
So, please keep practicing social distancing and proper hygiene to help decrease the spread of the virus.
We’ve heard both good things and bad about chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Unfortunately, a chloroquine trial in Brazil was cut short due to several patient deaths. Arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, was linked to high doses of the drug. On the other hand, some reports indicate hydroxychloroquine may be effective. We’re waiting on the outcome of an ongoing trial currently underway at the National Institutes of Health.
Remdesivir, another experimental drug, has proved highly effective so far. One study showed that 17 of 30 COVID-19 patients who were treated with Remdesivir were able to come off life-support machines. While more clinical trials are needed to ensure the safety and efficacy of the drug, the results are promising.
The last experimental treatment that was recently approved by the FDA for use in a small clinical trial is the use of placenta stem cells. The goal is to improve lung inflammation in patients with severe cases of COVID-19. So, many people in the scientific community are hard at work to find effective treatments. And I fully believe we will successfully beat the coronavirus.