The Daily Dose: Filipino nurses are suffering the brunt of healthcare COVID-19 infections

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Anyone who’s ever been to a hospital in the United States (and the world) has probably had a Filipino nurse taking care of them at some point. That’s because there is an inordinate number of them in the healthcare system. Unfortunately, that means Filipinos have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak more than other groups. STAT took a closer look. The article opens with list of some healthcare workers who’ve succumbed to the disease. It’s worth quoting at length.

“Debbie Accad, 72, a clinical nursing coordinator for the Detroit VA Medical Center, died from complications of the coronavirus on March 30. Celia Yap-Banago, 69, a “fireball” of a nurse who worked for 40 years at a hospital in Kansas City, died last week. Both women were just weeks away from retirement.

“Araceli Buendia Ilagan, 63, a nurse-manager in the surgical ICU, died March 27 at the Miami hospital where she had worked for 33 years. Also lost were Ali Dennis Guillermo, 44, a registered nurse who worked the night shift at Long Island Community Hospital and happily took on extra work for colleagues; Daisy Doronila, 60, a nurse at a New Jersey jail where inmates fell ill; and Noel Sinkiat, 64, who worked at Howard University Hospital for 41 years and had been planning the long motorcycle trip he was to take after his upcoming retirement.”

With the outbreak still not contained, the trend will most likely worsen.

The United States has passed a grim milestone. Over a million Americans have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. Most public health officials believe the true count is much higher. As per Reuters, “More than 56,500 Americans have died of the highly contagious respiratory illness COVID-19 caused by the virus, an average of about 2,000 a day this month, according to the tally. The actual number of cases is thought to be higher, with state public health officials cautioning that shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing capacity.”

Countries around the world are beginning to reopen from lock-down. Governments have been banking on people who have recovered from the disease and have antibodies that make them immune to subsequent infections. Unfortunately, not enough is known about acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Any decisions made are purely speculative. A commentary in the Lancet warns against it. “Caution is needed because total measurable antibody is not precisely the same as protective, virus-neutralising antibody. Furthermore, studies in COVID-19 show that 10–20% of symptomatically infected people have little or no detectable antibody.8 In some cases of COVID-19, low virus-binding antibody titres might correlate with lethal or near-lethal infection, or with having had a mild infection with little antigenic stimulation. Importantly, scientists must not only identify correlates of protection but also have a robust understanding of the correlates of progression to severe COVID-19, since knowledge of the latter will inform the former.”

Japan is set to move forward with the adoption of remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19 infection, despite mixed results in clinical trials. As perp FierceBiotech, “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to grant Gilead Sciences’ experimental COVID-19 drug remdesivir a special, speedy approval, despite it failing to show any definitive clinical signs that it works. The report, from Japanese news site Kyodo, could make Japan the first country in the world to approve the med, which was once being tested for Ebola. A green light for the med could come as early as May, Kyodo reports.” At least it’s not hydrochloroquine.

A letter to the editor of the journal Infectious Diseases chimes in on the mask-or-no-mask debate. The authors compared the outbreaks in Taiwan and Singapore to extrapolate effectiveness with the former adopting masks early compared to the latter. The authors concluded, “Although evidence is limited for their effectiveness in preventing transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, either for source control or to reduce exposure, the wearing of masks by healthy persons may prevent potential asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission (3). This marginal reduction in transmission may produce substantial results, particularly when it implemented early.”

Last on the menu today comes from Science. A commentary warns against allowing scientific standards to drop in the face of the current pandemic. “Although crises present major logistical and practical challenges, the moral mission of research remains the same: to reduce uncertainty and enable caregivers, health systems, and policy-makers to better address individual and public health. Rather than generating permission to carry out low-quality investigations, the urgency and scarcity of pandemics heighten the responsibility of key actors in the research enterprise to coordinate their activities to uphold the standards necessary to advance this mission.” As countries race to be first to produce effective vaccines and treatments, it’s hard to see shortcuts not being taken.


IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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