The Daily Dose: Hope for COVID-19 treatments; Facemask fashion moving forward

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A widely used steroid is giving scientists, public healthcare officials, and medical workers hope that one more weapon has been added to the anti-coronavirus arsenal. A large study conducted in the UK has shown that a common and inexpensive steroid, dexamethasone. As per the BBC, “The drug is part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also work for coronavirus. It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth. Had the drug had been used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved, researchers say.” The drug is commonly used to treat inflammation.

In stark contrast to the dexamethasone news, hydroxyquinoline treatment has suffered yet another blow to its credibility. This time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible. As per Science, “The two antimalaria drugs, touted by President Donald Trump and others as potential game-changers in tackling the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have failed in recent randomized controlled clinical trials to prevent disease in newly infected people or treat those with symptoms. In April, former FDA leaders decried the agency’s decision to authorize emergency use of the drugs, asserting it was based on political pressure, not scientific evidence.” Yet another nail in the proverbial coffin. Not that that will prevent any “truthers” out there from taking it?

As COVID-19 rampages through Latin America, scientists and public health officials are gearing up for vaccine R&D efforts of their own. They’ve grown increasingly worried about hints of international protectionism. As per Nature, “As Latin America becomes the new epicentre of COVID-19, concerns are flaring about the prospect of relying on a vaccine developed and manufactured elsewhere, especially given that rich countries have had better access to vaccines in the past1. “We’ve already seen some monopoly behaviour, even though we don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine yet,” says Gavin Yamey, a global-health researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Some governments of high-income countries have reportedly tried to buy vaccine-manufacturing companies or acquire a percentage of their supply.” When it comes to America’s southern neighbors, they’ve been forsaken in the past and don’t want that happening again if they can help it.

Masks are here to stay, at least for the near future. Those of us willing to be responsible citizens are faced with the predicament of “if we gotta wear it, is there some way to look stylish doing so?” Turns out that’s on the mind of people across the globe. A recent article in Channel News Asia takes a look at mask design. “Unfortunately, one size may not fit all when it comes to masks, and sizing options are not exactly wide-ranging, particularly for surgical masks. Many makers of fabric masks are, however, offering their wares in two sizes and also provide the exact measurements, as well as the option of tie fastenings, should you need a more customisable fit.” No doubt with all the intrepid stylistas out there, it’s only a matter of time until designer face masks are a thing. We’re okay with that.

Researchers have designed an edible gel that can be used to create different forms once it solidifies. According to the New Scientist, “Soft, edible robots that mimic real organisms could be used to deliver drugs to animals. That is just one potential application of a new material made from biodegradable gel.” The substance was originally designed to be biodegradable by bacteria commonly found in wastewater.

As the world adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic, student graduation ceremonies have had to be nimble and imaginative. Just about everything has had some online element to it. The venerable art school, Rhode Island School of Design has posted its 2020 senior class graduation show online. Take the time to look and linger. It’s a welcome break from current events.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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