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Lung damage found in COVID dead may shed light on ‘long COVID’



a blurry image of a man: FILE PHOTO: An X-ray of a COVID-19 patient's lungs at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston


© Reuters/CALLAGHAN O’HARE
FILE PHOTO: An X-ray of a COVID-19 patient’s lungs at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – A study of the lungs of people who have died from COVID-19 has found persistent and extensive lung damage in most cases and may help doctors understand what is behind a syndrome known as ‘long COVID’, in which patients suffer ongoing symptoms for months.

Scientists leading the research said they also found some unique characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which may explain why it is able to inflict such harm.

“The findings indicate that COVID-19 is not simply a disease caused by the death of virus-infected cells, but is likely the consequence of these abnormal cells persisting for long periods inside the lungs,” said Mauro Giacca, a professor at King’s College London who co-led the work.

The research team analysed samples of tissue from the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys of 41 patients who died of COVID-19 at Italy’s University Hospital of Trieste between February and April 2020.

In a telephone interview, Giacca said that, while his research team found no overt signs of viral infection or prolonged inflammation in other organs, they discovered “really vast destruction of the architecture of the lungs”, with healthy tissue “almost completely substituted by scar tissue”.

“MASSIVE” DAMAGE

“It could very well be envisaged that one of the reasons why there are cases of long COVID is because there is vast destruction of lung (tissue),” he told Reuters. “Even if someone recovers from COVID, the damage that is done could be massive.”

Growing evidence from around the world suggests that a small proportion of people who have had COVID-19 and recovered from their initial infection can experience a range of ongoing symptoms including fatigue, brain fog and shortness of breath. The condition is often called “long COVID”.

Giacca said almost 90% of the 41 patients had several characteristics unique to COVID-19 compared to other forms of pneumonia.

One was that patients had extensive blood clotting of the lung arteries and veins. Another was that some lung cells were abnormally large and had many nuclei – a result of the fusion of different cells into single large cells in a process known as syncytia.

The research, published in the journal Lancet eBioMedicine, also found the virus itself was still present in many types of cells.

“The presence of these infected cells can cause the major structural changes observed in lungs, which can persist for several weeks or months and could eventually explain ‘long COVID’,” Giacca said.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Gareth Jones)

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health

UK sees Covid ‘light ahead’ as Liverpool gets city-wide tests

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday promised “light ahead” for weary Britons ahead of a second coronavirus lockdown, pinning his hopes partly on the UK’s first city-wide testing plan in Liverpool.

The ambitious pilot scheme in the northwestern city, one of the areas worst-hit by the pandemic in Britain, will start on Friday, a day after all of England is to go into a revised version of the first lockdown instituted in March.

Britain, already grappling with the worst death toll in Europe, is tracking its neighbours in ramping up restrictions as a second wave of the pandemic takes grip.

But Johnson is under pressure from fellow Conservatives over the attendant economic harm.

Addressing a cabinet meeting, the prime minister said the four-week lockdown until December 2 was vital to prevent hospitals getting overwhelmed and “fatalities running in the thousands (daily) if nothing was done”.

There were grounds for hope, however, from new treatments to alleviate Covid-19 symptoms, mass and rapid testing, and the prospect of a vaccine, he said.

The kind of cheap new tests offering quick results intended for Liverpool “can be a massive and possibly decisive use to us in this country in defeating the virus”, Johnson added.

“So amid the uncertain gloom of November I see light ahead, and I’m absolutely certain that we will have better days before us.”

In launching the Liverpool pilot, the UK is following in the footsteps of Slovakia, which has begun testing its entire population.

But its effectiveness will depend on infected people self-isolating and their contacts being properly traced.

– Trust is short –

The track and trace facets of the Covid response have fallen short in Britain, Johnson has conceded, despite the government sinking a mammoth £12 billion ($16 billion) into its national testing programme so far.

Tom Wingfield, senior clinical lecturer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said the pilot in his city was “an important step towards regaining control of Covid-19 transmission”.

But he warned: “Success will also not be possible unless there is trust in the testing system. That trust will only be achieved through engagement with our communities and clear information about the benefits of participation.”

Britain has registered almost 47,000 fatalities among people testing positive for the coronavirus since the respiratory disease emerged in China late last year.

The Office for National Statistics on Tuesday said 980 more deaths were registered in England and Wales in the week ending October 23 than the five-year average.

Of those, 978 mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate.

Johnson pushed reluctant members of his cabinet into agreeing the lockdown after government scientists presented worst-case projections of fatalities reaching 4,000 a day by mid-December without action now.

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer accused the prime minister of a “catastrophic failure of leadership”, after Johnson rejected a recommendation to impose a shorter lockdown during the October school holidays.

– Virus sparks new cyber threats –

But restive Conservatives, warning of the spiralling economic costs of lockdown,

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health

Best sunrise light alarm clocks and sunrise clocks 2020

The eve of November brings with it Halloween, the end of daylight savings time, the final days before the 2020 election, a steadily increasing rate of Covid cases and temperature drops around the country. Somewhat disparate and somewhat intertwined, this cacophony of circumstances can lead many people to darker places, both literally and emotionally. And while anyone might rationally feel down these days for any one of the reasons above — or a combination of them — winter alone has always had the power to affect anyone suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a serious depression that lasts longer than two weeks.

While you’re here, you can Plan Your Vote and check into our 2020 election liveblog.

SKIP AHEAD Best sunrise clocks

In fact, the coronavirus pandemic has in some ways leveled the playing field for those who’re used to dealing with SAD every winter and those trying their best to adjust to the new reality. Regardless, experts agree that sleeplessness is rising alongside the pandemic, causing problems for anyone affected, no matter the reason. To help combat the onset of SAD, depression, mood swings or just a general feeling of lackluster, some medical experts recommend light therapy, which comes in many shapes and sizes. Given that term’s proximity to so-called sunrise clocks, which have garnered increasing interest from readers in recent weeks, we looked into what buying one entails.

Sunrise clocks — which are not considered light therapy products — aim to simulate the rising sun, setting sun or both to help you get increasingly better and more restful sleep. Should you grab a sunrise alarm clock? We consulted medical experts on what these devices — available from brands like Philips, Amazon, Casper and others — can do for you, as well as what they can’t.

Sunrise clocks for better sleep

“The beauty of sunrise clocks,” explained Seema Khosla, MD, the medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep, is that they can help you reach a “gentle awakening.” What does that mean? Your body’s circadian rhythm is an internal mechanism that regulates various processes within any given day or 24-hour cycle, one significant standout among those being the sleep-wake cycle. A gentle awakening is a healthy way to arise from slumber.

Sunrise clocks and sleep trackers aim to help you wake up at the right time for your body, that being when you’ve reached an optimal time to leave the sleep state and enter the waking state. Disrupting that rhythm can push you to sleeplessness or sleep deprivation, which can have significant effects on your wellness, from weight gain and mood swings to lack of alertness and even memory loss.

If you’re someone that takes 12 alarms to wake up, light won’t work.

Seema Khosla, MD, medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep

So how does a sunrise clock help? It lights up your space gradually and slowly over time, allowing your body to react to this “natural” light and wake in

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health

‘I’m an Psychologist and These Are The Light Therapy Treatments I Recommend for Seasonal Affective Disorder’

If you’re finding yourself cursing the reality of darker mornings and even darker, longer nights, you could be dealing with the pangs of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a very real type of depression that becomes more severe as winter approaches.



a man that is standing in the dark: Chances are you're not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here's how you can push back


© Mint Images – Getty Images
Chances are you’re not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here’s how you can push back

Despite how it may feel, you’re not the only one — it’s thought that around 10-20 per cent of people in the UK experience “mildly debilitating” symptoms of seasonal affective disorder as the weather gets colder and six per cent of adults will experience “recurrent major depressive episodes with seasonal pattern”. Currently, the average age at which seasonal affective disorder symptoms present themselves is 27-years-old in both men and women. Both genders are equally affected.

Despite enjoying an extra hour in bed, most of us will, especially at this time, be spending the majority of daylight hour indoors. For many, this could impact mental health — a 2019 YouGov poll found that 29 per cent of UK adults will experience some kind of depressive symptoms this winter, while six per cent of us will suffer seasonal affective disorder to the point where they’re unable to work or to function properly.

Worried about SAD? Don’t be. We’re here to help with our digestible guide on seasonal affective disorder including expert advice, study commentary, actionable advice, product information and more.



a sunset over a grass field: Cold Dawn Sunrise


© George W Johnson
Cold Dawn Sunrise

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

A form of depression that’s directly related to the changing of the seasons, seasonal affective disorder is experienced most commonly when summer transitions into winter. As it’s as seasonal issue, seasonal affective disorder is often experienced every 12 months. “Patients often begin experiencing symptoms of depression during autumn and often do not feel an improvement in mood until the spring,” explains Dr. Chun Tang, general Practitioner at Pall Mall Medical.

But how is seasonal affective disorder caused?

The research is sporadic, but one cause, it’s believed, is the correlation between the reduced exposure to sunlight and shorter days in winter. That’s because the hormone melatonin, responsible for controlling our sleep cycles, becomes “phase delayed” by people experiencing seasonal affective disorder, leading us to feel sluggish, tired and irritable — regardless of how many espressos have bene imbibed. Stress levels will rise, too, thereby impacting our mental wellbeing, immunity and overall health.

Similarly, serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety, happiness and mood, could have a bigger impact than previously thought. Due to winter having shorter days and darker weather, there typically isn’t enough natural daylight, which causes a drop in serotonin levels in our brains. On a biological level, this increases the likelihood of someone experiencing a depressive episode.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Are The Symptoms?

According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:

  • A persistent low mood
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and
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health

Doctors urge flu shots in light of COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know.

Health experts have urged Americans to get their flu shots this year to help ward off a “twindemic.”

“There’s considerable concern as we enter the fall and the winter months and into the flu season that we’ll have that dreaded overlap” of COVID-19 and the flu, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said earlier this month. 

The U.S. is battling a fresh surge of new coronavirus cases as winter approaches, and hospitals in some western and Midwestern states are filling up with COVID patients. The new rise follows an outbreak of COVID-19 cases that hit the Northeast hard earlier this year, followed by a rise in cases in the South over the summer. 

“We far surpassed what we’re used to with the flu with COVID this spring,” said Dr. Stephanie Sterling, chief of infectious disease at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn, in New York. “And to consider COVID plus flu together, this kind of pandemic would be devastating for communities and for healthcare systems.” 

She said we need to do everything we can to prevent the flu. 

“We don’t want a bad influenza season coinciding with a second wave of COVID,” Sterling said. “Flu shots are safe. They do help prevent illness.”

Why is getting a flu shot so important this year? 

“One is to prevent flu illnesses and it’s complications, but the benefit in this current season are resources that would otherwise be needed to care for patients with the flu that would become scarce, could be directed toward the pandemic,” said Dr. Ram Koppaka, a medical officer for the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The CDC estimates that last flu season, there were 38 million flu illnesses, 400,000 flu hospitalizations and 22,000 flu deaths. Koppaka said there were also 188 pediatric deaths from influenza. 

An estimated 48% of U.S. adults and 64% of children received a flu vaccine during the same season. Koppaka said the number of flu vaccinations had been increasing prior to COVID-19, but there was still a need for improvement. 

Sterling said that despite communities having a good amount of flu vaccinations, emergency rooms and hospital beds are often overwhelmed during a normal flu season.

This could be a great concern for hospitals in rural areas. Many rural hospitals have limited beds and ventilators, and rural Americans may be at higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 due to a range of factors, according to the CDC.

Additionally, the body does not do well fighting two infections at the same time, according to Dr. Jacqueline P. Cooke, a hospitalist at Jefferson Health in New Jersey. 

“The danger with COVID-19 is that the viral infection leads to overwhelming pneumonia and that type of viral pneumonia is what is causing the vast majority of people to need respiratory assistance and ventilation,” she said. 

Who should get a flu shot?

The CDC encourages people six months of age and older to get an annual flu shot. There are different types of vaccines that

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NeoLight’s jaundice treatment catches another $7 million to bring neonatal light therapy to the home

The Daily Beast

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Is Now Formally Moonlighting as a Trump Campaign Aide

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany appears to have taken on a new gig. In addition to her role as a government employee, she’s now serving as a senior aide on her boss’s reelection campaign.In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday morning, McEnany was introduced as “Trump 2020 senior advisor and White House press secretary.” A few hours later, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney introduced McEnany by saying she is “serving now as advisor for the Trump campaign.”McEnany’s dual roles for the White House and the Trump reelection campaign immediately set off alarm bells among good government advocates, who said they represent yet another instance of the often blurry lines between the Trump administration and the president’s political operation.“This looks like the latest example of Trump administration officials bending and breaking ethics laws and norms,” said Paul Seamus Ryan, the vice president of litigation for the group Common Cause. “This is unfortunately par for the course for this administration.”Now Kayleigh McEnany Has COVID, Making a Dozen From Rose Garden CeremonyA White House spokesperson said McEnany was not representing the White House during her Fox appearances on Tuesday.“Kayleigh was appearing in her personal capacity as a private citizen,” the spokesperson said.A spokesperson for the Trump campaign confirmed that McEnany is an unpaid advisor, and also said she was appearing on Fox on Tuesday in a personal capacity. The spokesperson said that cable news shows on which she appears “have been instructed not to refer to her with her White House title,” notwithstanding the Fox & Friends introduction on Tuesday that included both her campaign and White House titles.While most of McEnany’s two Fox hits on Tuesday concerned the status of the Trump campaign and the 2020 race, she also weighed in on official administration policy on issues such as COVID relief negotiations with congressional Democrats.“The chances [for a deal] are slim when you have someone like Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House,” McEnany told Varney. “If we’re providing stimulus relief for the American people, it should be just that, for American people, for United States citizens, not a wish-list from the liberal left,” McEnany told Varney.Speaking in front of a backdrop that featured both the White House and the Trump campaign logo, McEnany also rattled off a series of policy proposals that “we offered” in those negotiations.Fox News Reporter Explodes Over Kayleigh McEnany: ‘Stop Blaming the Media, I’m Tired of It!’It’s that sort of blurry line between White House and campaign messaging, and the prospect that taxpayer resources could continue bolstering the president’s reelection effort, that concerns Ryan.“This excerpt is McEnany commenting on federal government policy currently being negotiated by the Trump administration with Congress. This is McEnany doing the work of a [White House] Press Secretary,” he said. “It’s permissible for someone who works in the White House to also do campaign work. They just can’t mix the two.

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health

Artificial Light May Make Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes ‘Abnormally’ Active At Night, Study Shows

KEY POINTS

  • Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are more active when there is natural light
  • A study found that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes bite twice as much at night when there is artificial light 
  • The study highlights how increasing levels of light pollution could impact transmission of diseases like dengue

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are carriers of dengue and Zika viruses, are known to be active biters during the daytime, but a team of researchers has found that artificial lights can “abnormally” increase their biting behavior even at night.

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes transmit various mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika fever. The species mostly bite in the early morning and in the afternoon hours when there is light, but what happens when they are exposed to artificial lights at night?

To find out, a team of researchers conducted an experiment wherein the study’s first author, Samuel S. C. Rund of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Biological Sciences, let mosquitoes bite him under certain conditions including during daytime, at night, and at nighttime while exposed to artificial light. They then measured the mosquitoes’ blood-feeding behavior.

As expected, the mosquitoes fed more during the daytime and less at night. However, mosquitoes that were exposed to artificial light at night were actually twice as likely to bite compared to those not exposed, a news release from the University of Notre Dame said.

This shows that mosquitoes that feed during the daytime tend to bite more at night when there is artificial light.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 6, 2016. Photo: Reuters

“This is potentially a very valid problem that shouldn’t be overlooked,” study co-author Giles Duffield, also of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Biological Sciences, said in the news release. “They live and breed in the vicinity of houses, so the chances of Aedes aegypti being exposed to light pollution are very likely.”

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are considered “container-inhabiting” mosquitoes, the University of Florida (UF) explains, because they often breed in items that are commonly seen in or around a house, such as spare tires, drainage ditches, untreated swimming pools and unused flower pots. 

“They thrive in urbanized areas, in close contact with people making them an exceptionally successful vector,” the university in a feature.

The Notre Dame team said their study “highlights the concern that globally increasing levels of light pollution could be impacting arboviral disease transmission, such as dengue fever and Zika, and has implications for application of countermeasures for mosquito vector control.” 

The researchers are studying the relationship between artificial light and Aedes ageypti and trying to understand whether there is a genetic factor to the mosquitoes’ biting behavior since not all of them are willing to bite at night even with the lights, the news release said. 

The study is published in The American Journal of

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