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Monday, April 19, 2021

Making sense of the latest COVID-19 research

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COVIDGram scans COVID news from worldwide sources for information to help the skeptical media consumer navigate important decisions about responsible public health behavior and personal disease risk. 

All of us, even the experts, need help understanding what is going on with COVID because news about the coronavirus pandemic is constantly shifting. The tug-of-war between politicians trying to stay in office and news sources trying to lure readers and advertisers makes the already unpredictable news from research scientists and drug makers even more difficult to follow.  

COVIDGram uses scientific validity as the standard for selecting and analyzing articles. No publication is immune to political influence and publications often considered too political sometimes provide valuable perspectives. COVIDGram judges each article on its own merit regardless of its publication source. 

COVIDGram is a project of Kheprw Institute’s continuing efforts to empower communities on the ground level. 

  1. Aerosol (persistent airborne) transmission of virus 

  • Can I catch COVID from walking 6 feet behind an infected person or standing downwind of infected people because the virus particles they are breathing out remain suspended in the air (in aerosol)? 

  • What precautions can I take to avoid exposure to virus particles in aerosol?  

Summary. A peer-reviewed study published this week in a key scientific journal of record, Nature, provided evidence that virus particles remain suspended in the air on microdroplets long after an infected person has shed them through normal breathing and conversation activities. 

Takeaway. Exhaled coronavirus does remain suspended in the air for minutes, even hours, so whether you are walking behind someone or simply sitting on your porch downwind of someone within 20 feet, mask use is warranted.  

Nature, July 27, 2020, Aerosol and surface contamination of SARS-CoV-2 observed 

Clinical Infectious Diseases, July 6, 2020, It is time to address airborne transmission of COVID-19 

  1. Preventing personal COVID infection 

  • What are the best ways to prevent COVID infection short of total isolation? 

Summary. When distancing is not possible, The New York Times explains how masks provide some protection against inhalation of virus in addition to protecting others from your own exhalations.  

An article in The Atlantic this week confirms that virus particles on surfaces pose far less of an infectious threat than airborne virus. 

Takeaway. Wear a mask to protect yourself from infection in addition to protecting others. No need to wipe down mail, groceries, etc.  the airborne virus threat is how most COVID infections occur. 

The New York TimesJuly 27, 2020, How masks help prevent infection 

The AtlanticJuly 27, 2020, Disinfecting surfaces, fomites, not necessary 

  1. Can T-cell immunity help prevent infection? 

Summary. Aside from the highly competitive effort to develop a safe vaccine and effective antiviral drugs, considerable scientific effort is focused on understanding the specific immunology of COVID-19. Recent studies are starting to show that the body’s T-cells may be providing some innate immunity due to their ability to “remember” specific viral agents and attack the invasion before it can take hold in the body. 

  • Does a sub-infectious dose of coronavirus exposure  for example less than 100 particles in a near pass with an infected person who is simply talking and not sneezing  have the potential to induce a certain level of immunity via T-cell memory?  

BBCJuly 20, 2020, T-cell protection from COVID-19 

  1. What does COVID-19 do to our bodies? 

  • What are the lasting effects of COVID infection? 

  • What parts of the body does the coronavirus attack? 

USA Today, July 25, 2020, Long-term COVID effects 


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