Tests

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,

Read More
health

Germany eyes antigen tests to keep elderly safe from virus

BERLIN (AP) — As Europe tries to break a surge in coronavirus infections, Germany is counting on a new type of test to avoid closing nursing homes to visitors, a move that caused considerable anguish among residents and relatives in the spring.

So-called antigen tests, which look for a specific protein on the virus, were first launched months ago. They are cheap and fast, but experts said at the time they are also less accurate than the standard PCR test, which detects even the tiniest genetic trace of the virus.

Still, Germany — which has managed to contain the spread of the outbreak better than many of its neighbors — announced recently that it is bulk-buying millions of antigen tests each month.


“We have a new strategy,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Monday. “We can now basically perform rapid tests on visitors to nursing and care homes.”

Nursing homes will receive up to 20 free monthly tests per resident. These can be used to test patients, staff and — crucially — visiting relatives, who might be unwitting carriers of COVID-19, posing a potentially devastating threat.

“Health insurers will cover the costs for a certain number of visitors each month,” Merkel said. “That’s huge progress in terms of protection.”

Germany has one of the world’s oldest populations. More than 24 million people are 60 or older and about 900,000 people live in nursing homes. A further 2.5 million younger people have serious disabilities.

That means almost 30% of Germany’s population of 83 million are particularly vulnerable to the virus, Merkel said.

“Almost everyone knows somebody they don’t want to infect,” she said.

Germany has reported about 550,000 coronavirus cases — less than half the number recorded in Britain, Spain and France. Germany’s confirmed virus death toll of 10,669 is also one-fourth of Britain’s.

A Health Ministry spokeswoman told The Associated Press that manufacturers have agreed to supply Germany with 9 million antigen tests in November and 11.5 million tests in December.

Experts caution that while antigen tests have become more accurate, they should not be seen as a replacement for the standard PCR method.

Scientists in Switzerland recently scrutinized two widely available antigen tests, sold by Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories and Swiss pharma giant Roche. The researchers concluded that out of 100 people infected with the virus, only between 85 and 89 tested positive using the antigen method.

“It does fulfill the criteria that are published by the (World Health Organization), which should be more than 80% sensitivity,” said Isabella Eckerle, who heads the Center for Emerging Viral Diseases at the University of Geneva, where the tests were validated.

While the tests are less accurate, they provide quick results, she noted.

“One big advantage of these tests would be that you, for example, can build up a decentralized testing center,” Eckerle told The AP. “So you build up a tent, let’s say, in front of a school or in a park, and then people can come. And then after 15 minutes, they

Read More
health

Germany eyes antigen tests to keep elderly safe in 2nd wave

BERLIN (AP) — As Europe tries to break the surging second wave of coronavirus infections, Germany is counting on a new type of test to avoid closing nursing homes to visitors, a move that caused considerable anguish among residents and relatives in the spring.

So-called antigen tests, which look for a specific protein on the virus, were first launched months ago. They are cheap and fast, but experts said at the time they are also less accurate than the standard PCR test, which detects even the tiniest genetic trace of the virus.

Still, Germany — which has managed to contain the spread of the outbreak better than many of its neighbors — announced recently that it is bulk-buying millions of antigen tests each month.


“We have a new strategy,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Monday. “We can now basically perform rapid tests on visitors to nursing and care homes.”

Nursing homes will receive up to 20 free monthly tests per resident. These can be used to test patients, staff and — crucially — visiting relatives, who might be unwitting carriers of COVID-19, posing a potentially devastating threat.

“Health insurers will cover the costs for a certain number of visitors each month,” Merkel said. “That’s huge progress in terms of protection.”

Germany has one of the world’s oldest populations. More than 24 million people are 60 or older and about 900,000 people live in nursing homes. A further 2.5 million younger people have serious disabilities.

That means almost 30% of Germany’s population of 83 million are particularly vulnerable to the virus, Merkel said.

“Almost everyone knows somebody they don’t want to infect,” she said.

Germany has reported about 550,000 coronavirus cases — less than half the number recorded in Britain, Spain and France. Germany’s confirmed virus death toll of 10,669 is also one-fourth of Britain’s.

A Health Ministry spokeswoman told The Associated Press that manufacturers have agreed to supply Germany with 9 million such tests in November and 11.5 million tests in December.

Experts caution that while antigen tests have become more accurate, they should not be seen as a replacement for the standard PCR method.

Scientists in Switzerland recently scrutinized two widely available antigen tests, sold by Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories and Swiss pharma giant Roche. The researchers concluded that out of 100 people infected with the virus, only between 85 and 89 tested positive using the antigen method.

“It does fulfill the criteria that are published by the (World Health Organization), which should be more than 80% sensitivity,” said Isabella Eckerle, who heads the Center for Emerging Viral Diseases at the University of Geneva, where the tests were validated.

While the tests are less accurate, they provide quick results, she noted.

“One big advantage of these tests would be that you, for example, can build up a decentralized testing center,” Eckerle told The AP. “So you build up a tent, let’s say, in front of a school or in a park, and then people can come. And then after 15

Read More
fitness

Atalanta v Liverpool: Joel Matip and Naby Keita face late fitness tests before Champions League tie

Liverpool
Liverpool have won 1-0 away at Ajax and 2-0 at home against FC Midtjylland in the Champions League this season

Defender Joel Matip and midfielder Naby Keita face late fitness tests before Liverpool’s Champions League game at Atalanta on Tuesday (20:00 GMT).

The pair trained on Sunday, but midfielder Thiago Alcantara was absent as he recovers from a knee injury.

“We have to wait until the medical department gives us a green, orange or red light,” said manager Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool have won both of their Champions League games this season and are top of Group D.

Meanwhile, Atalanta, who reached the quarter-finals of the 2019-20 competition, have picked up four points from their opening two matches and are second.

This will be Liverpool’s first European match against the Italian side and Klopp is expecting a tough game.

“They obviously have a really good atmosphere, a good mood and are a proper fighting unit,” said the German.

“They are very well organised; play their system with 100% conviction, they know exactly what everybody has to do.

“I know how good they are. I actually enjoyed the analysis, I enjoyed watching them because it’s really interesting.”

Premier League leaders Liverpool will be playing their sixth game in 18 days.

Matip has only featured twice this season and missed the past four matches, while Keita has been absent for five games because of a muscle injury.

Centre-half Virgil van Dijk is expected to miss most of the season with a cruciate knee ligament injury, while stand-in defender Fabinho sustained a hamstring problem in the 2-0 home win against Danish side FC Midtjylland last week.

“We have, in the moment, more centre-halves available than we probably will line up together, which is good,” added Klopp.

MATCH FACTS

Atalanta

  • Atalanta are set to face their third different English opponent, having previously met Everton in the 2017-18 Europa League (played two, won two) and Manchester City in the Champions League last season (played two, drew one, lost one).
  • Since losing their first three group-stage games in the Champions League last season, Atalanta have gone unbeaten in their past five group-stage games in the competition (won three, drew two), including both this season (won one, drew one).
  • Excluding qualifiers, Atalanta have only failed to score in one of their past 19 games in major European competition (4-0 v Dinamo Zagreb last season), while they have averaged 2.1 goals per game over the course of this run (40 goals in total).
  • Duvan Zapata has been directly involved in six goals in five Champions League starts for Atalanta (four goals and two assists), while he scored twice in their 2-2 draw against Ajax on matchday two.

Liverpool

  • Liverpool have lost all three of their away Champions League matches in Italy under manager Jurgen Klopp, losing to Roma in May 2018 and Napoli in October 2018 and September 2019.
  • Liverpool have won each of their past three away games in the Champions League group stage, after losing four in
Read More
medicine

Hygea Precision Medicine Partners With 1health.io to Provide COVID-19 Saliva Tests That Can Be Administered Remotely

Genetic Testing Solution to Offer Easy and Convenient COVID-19 Testing for Providers Everywhere

Hygea Precision Medicine, a company focused on developing a precision medicine software system for healthcare providers and patients to effectively manage genetic testing, announced today that it has partnered with 1health.io, the leading Testing as a Service (TaaS) company. Hygea Precision Medicine’s partnership with 1health.io will allow it to deliver saliva-based COVID-19 tests to providers across the country.

1health.io empowers partners with the ability to offer convenient, non-invasive, and remote options for diagnostic testing. Partners can offer their patients, customers or employees diagnostic testing that eliminates inconvenient or even risky visits to testing centers while also eliminating long wait times for results. 1health.io’s platform allows partners, like Hygea Precision Medicine, to launch their private, secure, and scalable testing portal quickly, and to have tracking and reporting that is essential for supporting a large distributed team.

Hygea Precision Medicine provides a platform that promotes communication between a patient and their healthcare provider to optimize the patient’s treatment plan. The Hygea solution is a HIPAA compliant web-based software platform that connects providers, patients, and CLIA labs.

“When COVID-19 hit, we realized we could step in to deliver even more than genetic tests to providers,” said Devina Do, COO and Co-Founder of Hygea Precision Medicine. “Our intuitive software is trusted by physicians everywhere to assist in selecting, ordering, and assessing the most relevant genetic tests from laboratories. Now, with the help of 1health.io we are leveraging our seamless processes to deliver convenient at-home COVID-19 testing in order to fight this pandemic.”

1health.io provides testing as a service, enabling partners to easily deploy, manage, and personalize testing at scale. The company pioneered the concept and are the first in the field of DNA testing with a simple self administered COVID-19 saliva test that was authorized by the FDA under EUA earlier this year.

“We aim to make testing easy and accessible for everyone, and have developed the first technology infrastructure that turns testing into a service allowing our partners to launch testing in days all across the country,” said Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of 1health.io. “Hygea Precision Medicine has fantastic infrastructure for providers, and their expertise in the field of genetic testing makes this partnership an evergreen one. For the time being, we are excited to help them provide their customers with an easy and convenient COVID-19 test option to help contain this pandemic.”

The tests can be taken from anywhere – at home, at work, in a hotel, or on-the-go. Saliva is collected in a tube, sealed with reagents, and shipped to a qualified lab in a secure envelope. Test results are delivered digitally to the person within 48 hours of the lab receiving the sample, and can be viewed on the secure patient dashboard on the 1health.io online platform.

About 1health.io

1health.io is the pioneer in enabling testing as a service, making diagnostic testing easy and accessible for everyone. Its platform powers engaging health applications for telehealth companies,

Read More
health

Doubts over ‘rapid turnaround’ Covid tests pledged by Johnson

The “rapid turnaround” coronavirus tests the prime minister announced on Saturday are not approved for the public to interpret themselves without an expert’s help and so will not provide results in the promised 15 minutes, the Guardian has learned.



Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: WPA/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

Boris Johnson’s briefing about this week’s national lockdown in England included the promise of a mass rollout of “tests that you can use yourself to tell whether or not you are infectious and get the result within 10 to 15 minutes”, which would be made available at universities and across whole cities.

He said the army would be deployed to roll out the “many millions of cheap, reliable and above all rapid turnaround tests” everywhere they were needed.

Three of these rapid antigen tests, called lateral flow tests, have passed an assessment by Porton Down with Oxford University. The government has bought one of them. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced the government had signed a deal for 20 million, from the company Innova Tried and Tested, on 19 October.

But the Innova tests are not for people without symptoms, such as university students or people wanting to get on a plane or go to the theatre. They are designed for people who already have Covid symptoms. And the devices, which look like a pregnancy test, are intended to be read by a healthcare professional.

The company is clear about their limitations on the instructions for use, which can be found on its website. The tests analyse throat and nose swabs “from individuals who are suspected of Covid-19 by their healthcare provider, within the first five days of the onset of symptoms”. The test is designed for use by trained lab and healthcare staff, it says.



Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Boris Johnson announced the promise of a mass rollout of the tests, to be made available at universities and across cities.


© Photograph: WPA/Getty Images
Boris Johnson announced the promise of a mass rollout of the tests, to be made available at universities and across cities.

Johnson hopes the tests will help show the way out of the pandemic. They will be deployed in a wide range of situations, he said, “from helping women to have their partners with them in labour wards when they’re giving birth, to testing whole towns and even whole cities.

“The army has been brought in to work on the logistics and the programme will begin in a matter of days, working with local communities, local government, public health directors and organisations of all kinds to help people discover whether or not they are infectious, and then immediately to get them to self-isolate and to stop the spread.”

Prof Jon Deeks from Birmingham University and a member of a working group of the Royal Statistical Society, which is looking at coronavirus tests, said they were not ready for this type of use.

“At the moment, if you were bought this test, you would not be using it for this purpose,” he told the Guardian.

Lateral flow tests are now being offered to students at two universities – Durham and De Montfort – in

Read More
health

Tests Show Genetic Signature of Coronavirus That Likely Infected Trump

President Trump’s illness from a coronavirus infection last month was the most significant health crisis for a sitting president in nearly 40 years. Yet little remains known about how the virus arrived at the White House and how it spread.

The administration did not take basic steps to track the outbreak, limiting contact tracing, keeping cases a secret and cutting out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The origin of the infections, a spokesman said, was “unknowable.”

But one standard public health technique may still shed some light: tracking the cluster’s genetic fingerprints.

To better understand the outbreak, The Times worked with prominent geneticists to determine the genetic sequence of viruses that infected two Times journalists believed to been exposed to the coronavirus as part of their work covering the White House.

The study reveals, for the first time, the genetic sequence of the virus that may have infected President Trump and dozens of others, researchers said. That genome is a crucial clue that may allow researchers to identify where the outbreak originated and whether it went on to infect others across the country.

The White House has not disclosed any effort to conduct similar genetic testing, but the study’s results show that it is still possible, even weeks after positive tests. Additional sequencing could help establish the path of the virus through the White House, the role of a possible super-spreading event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and the origin of an outbreak among the staff of Vice President Mike Pence in the last week or so.

The journalists, Michael D. Shear and Al Drago, both had significant, separate exposure to White House officials in late September, several days before they developed symptoms. They did not spend any time near each other in the weeks before their positive tests.

Mr. Shear traveled with Mr. Trump and other staff on Air Force One on Sept. 26, when Mr. Trump approached within five or six feet without a mask. Mr. Drago covered the Judge Barrett event that day and a news conference the next day near officials who were not wearing masks and later tested positive.

The viral genomes of the two journalists shared the same distinct pattern of mutations, the research found. Along with their exposure history, the findings suggest that they were infected as part of the broader White House outbreak, said Trevor Bedford, a geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington who led the research team.

“These mutations that are possessed by these viruses are quite rare in the United States,” Dr. Bedford said. “I am highly convinced that these viruses come from the same outbreak or cluster based on their genomes.”

The study, which has been posted online but not yet peer reviewed or published in a science journal, followed academic protocols that require genetic samples to be anonymous. Mr. Shear and Mr. Drago chose to disclose their identities for this article.

Viruses constantly mutate, picking up tiny, accidental alterations

Read More
health

Coronavirus updates: Space Force’s second in command tests positive

New coronavirus cases are increasing in 42 states and territories, according to an internal Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News.

Six jurisdictions are at a plateau, and new cases are decreasing in eight, the memo said.
 
The number of new cases reported from Oct. 21 to 27 increased by 21.7% compared to the previous seven-day period, according to the memo.

New deaths increased 8.8% during that same time period.

The national test-positivity rate also increased to 6.2% from 5.8% in week-to-week comparisons.

Across the country, 23% of hospitals have more than 80% of their intensive care unit beds filled, according to HHS. That number was 17% to 18% during the summertime peak.

Hospital strain is a concern in several states, including Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Hospitals in New Mexico are seeing higher numbers of younger patients, while ones in Oklahoma City are reducing elective surgeries and calling for volunteers with medical backgrounds due to a surge in COVID-19 patients, the memo noted. 
  
ABC News’ Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

Source Article

Read More
health

Cats, dogs, dolphins and more animals get Covid-19 tests

As Covid-19 cases surge in the US, one Texas veterinarian has been quietly tracking the spread of the disease — not in people, but in their pets.



a dog sitting on a table: Texas A&M University student Ed Davila holds Stella, one of hundreds of household pets tested during A&M's study of pets exposed to Covid-19 by their infected owners. The 2½-year-old Pomeranian tested negative.


© Sarah Hamer/Kaiser Health News
Texas A&M University student Ed Davila holds Stella, one of hundreds of household pets tested during A&M’s study of pets exposed to Covid-19 by their infected owners. The 2½-year-old Pomeranian tested negative.

Since June, Sarah Hamer and her team at Texas A&M University have tested hundreds of animals from area households where humans contracted Covid-19. They’ve swabbed dogs and cats, sure, but also pet hamsters and guinea pigs, looking for signs of infection. “We’re open to all of it,” said Hamer, a professor of epidemiology, who has found at least 19 cases of infection.

One pet that tested positive was Phoenix, a 7-year-old part-Siamese cat owned by Kaitlyn Romoser, who works in a university lab. Romoser, 23, was confirmed to have Covid-19 twice, once in March and again in September. The second time she was much sicker, she said, and Phoenix was her constant companion.

“If I would have known animals were just getting it everywhere, I would have tried to distance myself, but he will not distance himself from me,” Romoser said. “He sleeps in my bed with me. There was absolutely no social distancing.”

Across the country, veterinarians and other researchers are scouring the animal kingdom for signs of the virus that causes Covid-19. At least 2,000 animals in the US have been tested for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to federal records. Cats and dogs that were exposed to sick owners represent most of the animals tested and 80% of the positive cases found.



a woman holding a cat: Kaitlyn Romoser and her 7-year-old cat, Phoenix, both tested positive for the coronavirus. Romoser tested positive in March and again in September.


© (Emil Koseoglu/Kaiser Health News
Kaitlyn Romoser and her 7-year-old cat, Phoenix, both tested positive for the coronavirus. Romoser tested positive in March and again in September.

But scientists have cast a wide net investigating other animals that could be at risk. In states from California to Florida, researchers have tested species ranging from farmed minks and zoo cats to unexpected critters like dolphins, armadillos and anteaters.

Fur farm outbreaks

The US Department of Agriculture keeps an official tally of confirmed animal Covid-19 cases that stands at several dozen. But that list is a vast undercount of actual infections. In Utah and Wisconsin, for instance, more than 14,000 minks died in recent weeks after contracting Covid-19 infections initially spread by humans.

So far, there’s limited evidence that animals are transmitting the virus to people. Veterinarians emphasize that pet owners appear to be in no danger from their furry companions and should continue to love and care for them. But scientists say continued testing is one way to remain vigilant in the face of a previously unknown pathogen.

“We just know that coronaviruses, as a family, infect a lot of species, mostly mammals,” said Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, a professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and the director of the University of Washington Center for One Health Research in

Read More
health

Space Force vice chief of space operations tests positive for COVID-19

Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander of the United States Space Force, seen at the Air Force Association, Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in February, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Photo by Jonathan Snyder/U.S. Air Force

Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander of the United States Space Force, seen at the Air Force Association, Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in February, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Photo by Jonathan Snyder/U.S. Air Force

Oct. 29 (UPI) — Space Force’s vice chief of space operations tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, Space Force announced.

According to a press release issued jointly by the Space Force and the Air Force, Gen. David D. Thompson took a test for the virus after learning that a close family member had tested positive.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Thompson has not shown symptoms of COVID-19 so far and was on leave last week, but returned to the Pentagon for work on Monday and Tuesday to address a virtual symposium for the National Defense Industrial Association and Texas A&M University.

He is now self-isolating and working from home.

According to Stefanek, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett have not tested positive for the new virus within the past 24 hours.

Raymond and Brown recently ended a period of isolation after a potential exposure among the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The Department of the Air Force continues to follow established DoD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policies and guidelines for COVID. Measures include temperature testing, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, the wearing of masks when social distancing is not possible, and contact tracing and quarantining, if needed,” the press release said.

As of Thursday morning a total of 55,443 COVID-19 cases had been reported in the military since the beginning of the pandemic, with 8,839 of those reported among Air Force personnel.

Earlier this month Marine Corps assistant commandant Gen. Gary Thomas and Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, tested positive for COVID-19.

And last week United States Forces Korea said 13 service members had tested positive for the virus, the second time in two weeks that USFK reported personnel arriving in Korea had tested positive.

Source Article

Read More