At IMMUNOe, keeping our patients informed of the latest developments in healthcare is one of our highest priorities. We understand that, the more knowledge and information you have, the better able you are to make the right decisions regarding your health and welfare. Never has that been more important than in today’s world as we continue to deal with all of the issues surrounding COVID-19. While the medical community has already learned much about this life-altering disease, there is still much more to learn…and much more that we are learning. In an effort to help you find answers to questions you may have about COVID-19, we are pleased to be able to provide you with the most up-to-date information possible regarding therapeutic treatments, testing and research trials:
In recent weeks there has been a great deal of progress reported regarding the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. Of special note have been reports that Pfizer has developed a vaccine that may be up to 90% effective. While there is still a great deal of data which needs to be reviewed, including the vaccine’s safety, this news offers great hope regarding the possible prevention—and spreading—of the disease. Although there are still hurdles which need to be overcome before their vaccine can be administered, Pfizer has announced that they will have 50 million doses ready to go when final approval is given.
FDA Authorizes New Antibody Detection Test
The FDA recently gave approval to a new test that evaluates SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The test will help researchers gain vital information as to the role these antibodies may play in a patient’s potential immunity.
As researchers continue to learn more and more about COVID-19, they are developing ever more innovative ways to treat the disease. The FDA recently gave approval to pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to pursue its study into whether its monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab may be useful in treating non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are older than 65 years of age, as well as those who have certain chronic health conditions.
COVID-19 and Children
Since the earliest days of the presentation of COVID-19, it was generally assumed that children were less at risk for infection than adults. Recent data shows that this may not be the case. In fact, in October, alone, children accounted for 200,000 of the new cases of COVID-19 being reported. With recent data suggesting the majority of new cases have been coming from the ‘young adult’ population, it now appears that there may be cause for concern that this population may not just be transmitting the virus to the elderly, but to their own children, as well. This supposition is supported by a recent study conducted in North Carolina which found that 77% of children and adolescents who lived with a household member who was infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus had a positive COVID-19 RT/PCR test. Possible reasons for the increased risk of infection were having an infected sibling or Hispanic ethnicity. Interestingly, asthma was associated with a lower risk. Also of interest is a study conducted in New York of children and adults with COVID-19 that revealed that there were different antibody responses between the adult and pediatric populations.
False Positive Antigen Tests
While scientists and researchers take every possible precaution to insure the accuracy and reliability of a medical test, the possibility of receiving ‘false positive’ results remains. Recently, the FDA sent a letter to clinical laboratories and healthcare providers alerting them to the potential for false positive results in rapid detection COVID-19 antigen tests. The FDA has also been informed of false positive readings coming from tests conducted in various settings, including nursing homes. While concerning, it should be noted that these results are not unexpected, given that, large populations with a low prevalence of infection are being screened.
Does Short-Term Recurrence of Positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA Indicate a Relapse?
Studies have shown that patients who had been discharged from the hospital following treatment for COVID-19, and who received positive results when retested, were not likely to be experiencing a relapse of the virus. Research showed that, while of the 192 patients studied, the short-term recurrence of positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA was found in15% of the patients, it was not associated with new symptoms. It was also shown that the individuals who had recurrent positive tests tended to be younger (34 vs 45 years of age) and exhibited a higher proportion of moderate symptoms. Of the total number who had recurrent positive tests, no signs of infection were noted, and none of their close contacts developed the COVID-19 virus.
Aerosol vs. Drop Spread
There has been much discussion surrounding the various means by which COVID-19 is spread. A recent study revealed that 10 seconds after an individual coughs, more than half of the virus-containing particles were able to remain airborne. Studies have also found that masking can be effective in blocking nearly 95% of viruses that may remain airborne following the 10-second time period.
- Our focus in research linked to the COVID has been the role of the immune system in infectious-immune relationship.
- Our approach to this condition as an immune related disease.
- Our approach to identify the immune status of the high risk population
- Can we modulate it and how
- Can we identify and discuss a prevention program
- As we focus on the cross-talk between the nervous system and the immune system we start a new study evaluating a new drug the may benefit patient with post-COVID with neurological symptoms (more detailed with our research team ).
COVID-19 and Asthma
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel 2019 coronavirus, has greatly impacted all people around the world and caused significant risk for those with chronic medical conditions. While our understanding of this disease is constantly expanding, people with asthma should be especially careful in regards to the risks and the precautions that should be taken to avoid exposure.
At this time, there are several facts regarding asthma and COVID19:
The CDC has classified “at risk” groups of patients which include severe obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Pregnancy and other conditions. Asthma is NOT in this group. There is another CDC-defined group that “might” be at risk, depending on varying data, that DOES include moderate-to-severe asthma.
There is no way to reduce your risk of contracting coronavirus to zero. All people with asthma should take the most precautions possible to avoid exposure to the virus.
It is specifically recommended that all people with asthma adhere to their prescribed “controller” therapies in order to prevent exacerbations (flare-ups) or avoidable emergency room or hospital visits.
The inflammatory consequences of COVID-19 are still poorly understood. All patients with chronic inflammatory disorders, significant family histories of immune disorders, or any other immune concerns should visit with an immunologist for evaluation.
If you have any questions about your asthma or about the risks of COVID-19 please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our Allergy, Asthma and Immunology specialists.
Mental Health & the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical community has been aggressively pursuing the most effective ways to prevent and treat this disease and its complications. Unfortunately, one of the most detrimental effects of this outbreak has been the devastating impact on the health and minds of all people- both children and adults, healthy and infected. Being disengaged from our regular social activities and support systems for so long has created increased detachment and loneliness among human beings and, for some, this may culminate into anxiety and depression. In fact, a September 2020 study published by the Journals of the American Medicine Association found a greater than than 3-fold increase in depression since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a well-established relationship between mental health and physical health, and the healthcare team at Immunoe and Horizon Pediatrics and Primary Care is here to support you and your family now and in the future. Here are some ways to protect and improve your mental health during the current pandemic and beyond.
Exercise Every Day
One of the best ways to keep your body and all its functions on track is to engage in some type of exertional activity every day. Not only does it help prevent injury and illness by supporting health for your physical body, immune system, and metabolic system, but exercise also enhances neurologic functions, with proven benefits on mental health. Aerobic exercise such as cycling, dancing, jogging, walking, gardening, and swimming promotes the flow of oxygen through increased blood circulation. These types of activities also influence healthy brain functioning and, in general, improves mood and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Express Yourself Better
Anxiety is a vicious circle of thoughts within your mind. Whether these thoughts are positive or negative, true or false, they distract from other important things in our lives and are generally a very one-sided perspective. Expressing yourself better will allow these thoughts to flow, rather than staying trapped in your mind, and can lead to action. Consider writing your thoughts down on paper, then talk to a friend or family member about the things that are causing you to be anxious. Some people feel more comfortable talking to someone objective, like a counselor or therapist, who is trained to help people work on establishing healthy ways to work through their thoughts and worries. There are generally ways to access this care through your employer, insurance carrier, or other community resources, which can reduce the financial stress of seeking the help of a professional. Please discuss this further with your medical provider in our office if you have any questions.
There is growing evidence that dietary patterns, broad-based, multinutrient supplements or specific vitamins, minerals or other nutrients can have an effect on one’s mental health. In particular, those with Western-style dietary habits- increased intake of fast food, sugar and soft drinks- are more likely to physical and mental health concerns. The good news is that improving your nutrition can also be one of many factors that leads to improvements in your emotional well-being, and even small dietary changes can make a big difference. Consider making adjustments to your eating habits, such as eating less junk food and including more nutrient-rich foods, such as produce, fish and legumes, in your diet. If you have already been diagnosed with a nutritional deficiencies with known effects on physical and mental health, such as iron-deficiency anemia or Vitamin D deficiency, it is important that you are compliant with your treatment plan and follow up with your medical provider as directed.
Keep yourself engaged and focused on activities that will keep you busy and stop unwanted, negative thoughts. Minimizing the amount of time you spend on the internet and social media tends to improve real life engagement and overall health and happiness. You could work on your favorite hobby or start up a new one. Whatever it is, the idea is to keep yourself focused on positive activities that bring you happiness, leaving no room for bad vibes to find their way into your life.
Many people find meditation to be a positive force in their life which brings their body and mind into better balance. Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being. Many studies have been conducted to look at how meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain. More than just a technique to relax, it is truly a tool to promote better health. Check out this help article from the Mayo Clinic on meditation and how you can incorporate this into your life. Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress
Always remember, the healthcare providers and staff at Immunoe and Horizon Pediatrics & Primary Care are here for you and your family. If you or anyone in your family is experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact Colorado Crisis Services, go to the nearest emergency department, or call 911.