Shin Jie Yong
Freelance writer | Published academic author | 20 y/o neurobiology postgrad in Malaysia | 70+ curated articles on Covid |

This could be why 18% of Covid-19 survivors had psychiatric diagnoses, a population-sized study finds.

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Adapted from Medical vector created by freepik —

In April, a research review with an interesting title was published: “Are we facing a crashing wave of neuropsychiatric sequelae of COVID-19? Neuropsychiatric symptoms and potential immunologic mechanisms.” This review draws on past pandemics and epidemics to infer what might happen following the Covid-19 pandemic, which a wave of psychiatric maladies.

Fast-forward today, we may finally see that wave. A paper published this month in The Lancet Psychiatry found that 18% of Covid-19 survivors — regardless of hospitalization status — develop psychiatric disorders within 14 to 90 days of infection. Considering the pandemic scale that has exceeded 57 million cases and 1.3 …

This study tells us there’re other undiscovered bat coronaviruses, even outside of China.

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Background vector created by articular —

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a study from Japan, titled “Detection and Characterization of Bat Sarbecovirus Phylogenetically Related to SARS-CoV-2, Japan,” this month. In this study, a new bat coronavirus called Rc-o319 is discovered, which belongs to the same evolutionary clade as SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13. This article will discuss the significance of this finding.

(SARS-CoV-2 is the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. RaTG13 is a bat coronavirus that is the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 belong to the coronavirus's beta genus under the sarbecovirus clade — betacoronavirus, sarbecovirus. …

Explaining the efficacy and safety profiles, handling protocols, and remaining questions about disease spread and long-term immunity and safety between the two vaccines.

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Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

The fastest vaccine the FDA has approved was the Ebola DNA-based vaccine that took about five years. For Covid-19, in less than a year, we already have two candidate vaccines — mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna — awaiting approval this year or early 2021. A record-breaking indeed. How do the two mRNA vaccines compare, and what makes them so effective? And what are the things left unanswered?

Current knowledge

1. Efficacy

While data is yet to be published as formal peer-reviewed scientific papers, Pfizer claimed a 95% efficacy, and Moderna claimed a 94.5% efficacy in preventing Covid-19 infections in press-releases. …

If restoring proper vitamin D3 levels supports viral clearance, does that mean its deficiency fuels the spread of Covid-19?

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Medical photo created by freepik —

In August, a randomized clinical trial first showed that oral calcifediol (also called vitamin D3) reduced the odds of intensive care unit (ICU) admission from 50% (13 out of 26) to 2% (one out of 50) among Covid-19 patients. “Although this was a small trial, the ICU results are so dramatic that they are statistically highly significant,” stated a featured letter in The BMJ.

This month, another Covid-19 clinical trial on vitamin D3 from India was published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal of the British Medical Journal, titled “Short term, high-dose vitamin D supplementation for COVID-19 disease: a randomised, placebo-controlled, study (SHADE study).” …

Understanding who might be at risk for post-vaccine autoimmunity, including mRNA-based vaccines.

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Health vector created by pikisuperstar —

In 2011, Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD, a world-leading autoimmunity professor with over 1,700 peer-reviewed publications, coined the term ASIA: Autoimmune/inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants. It’s also called Shoenfeld’s syndrome or post-vaccination autoimmunity. Here comes a predicament: Should people at risk for ASIA, such as those with autoimmune conditions like Covid-19 long-haulers, get a vaccine?

A backdrop on ASIA

Adjuvant, the second A in ASIA, means to aid in Latin. In medicine, an adjuvant is a substance that boosts immune responses to a vaccine. Common adjuvants include alum, squalene, killed bacterial products, and mineral oil. …

Scientists called it the third silent wave, but there are a few things to consider.

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Image by rawpixel

To date, there have been three published case reports of Covid-19 patients developing parkinsonism — the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). PD impairs a person's movement coordination. They show trembling hands, legs, or jaw, stiff limbs, slow movement with sudden halts, and poor balance. Now, what might parkinsonism have to do with SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19?

Parkinsonism cases following Covid-19

Let’s hear from Patrik Brundin, professor and director at the Center for Neurodegenerative Science in Van Andel Research Institute in Michigan, a world-leading expert with over 350 publications on PD.

His new paper, titled “Is COVID-19 a perfect storm for Parkinson’s disease?”, was published in Trends in Neurosciences last month. Herein he and co-workers detailed three case reports of patients developing parkinsonism within 2–5 weeks of SARS-CoV-2 infection. …

Explaining why coronavirus evolution in minks poses a threat, leading to the decision to cull 17 million minks in Denmark.

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Source: Otwarte Klatki (CC BY 2.0)

Denmark has decided to slaughter all farmed minks — 17 million of them — due to a mutated SARS-CoV-2 found circulating in over 200 mink farms. The mink-coronavirus first infected 12 workers and 200 more humans later, although the workers did not seem to show worse Covid-19. About 400 farms were already culled. Owing to the mink-coronavirus outbreak, the U.K. has just banned travelers from Denmark.

And the WHO is aware of the situation, naming the mink-coronavirus “cluster-5” variant with a set of mutations not previously seen. “Preliminary findings indicate that this particular mink-associated variant identified in both minks and the 12 human cases has moderately decreased sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies,” the WHO stated, but also mentioned that more data is needed. …

Medical comorbidities include mental health disorders

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Photo: Fernando @cferdo/Unsplash

As of today, there have been 40 million cases of and 1 million deaths from Covid-19 worldwide. The combination of a growing aging population, a highly contagious virus, international travel, indoor crowding, socioeconomic inequities, and increasing prevalence of comorbidities like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease has proved to be deadly.

A less obvious comorbidity

Comorbidities are medical conditions that co-occur. They are often chronic (or long term) and associated with unfavorable health outcomes. For instance, people with obesity and/or diabetes are at higher risk of greater Covid-19 severity than otherwise disease-free people. …

Dear all,

It has been another month. As usual, here’s a brief account of the 10 articles (friend linked) Microbial Instincts covered in October in chronological order. I hope you will find this useful.

  1. Ethnic Disparities in Covid-19: Can We Blame the Neanderthal (Or Other) Genes?: Using a genomic technique called GWAS, a new genetic risk factor for increased Covid-19 severity was found. It’s the chromosomal 3 gene segment that South Asians, particularly the Bangladeshi, inherited from Neanderthals. This article further discusses how reliable is GWAS and the real-life significance of this Neantherthalian gene segment.
  2. Taste Loss in Covid-19: What Do We Really Know About It?: While we know how SARS-CoV-2 causes smell loss, much lesser is known about taste. As smell and taste systems are interlinked, it’s assumed that taste loss in Covid-19 is just a result of smell loss. But Covid-19 patients can experience taste disorders while having an intact sense of smell, suggesting other mechanisms at play, which include zinc deficiency and others. …

More than 5 initial symptoms predict long-Covid. And a drug just passed phase III clinical trial for chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Hand vector created by freepik —

As with any other systemic disease, Covid-19 may bring systemic complications that may not resolve so soon. We identify them as long-haulers, long-Covid, post-viral Covid-19 syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Importantly, a positive SARS-CoV-2 test is not important for long-Covid diagnosis.

We understand what they look like and the probable causes. But how much do we know about its risk factors, namely, what traits make a patient more likely to develop long-Covid, and its potential treatments?

Prevalence and cause

The prevalence of long-Covid depends on the population studied. For example, a study in China detected residual lung abnormalities in 25% of discharged Covid-19 patients in a 3-month follow-up, of whom 31% still had gastrointestinal distress, 18% had headaches, 16% had fatigue, and 15% had dyspnea (shortness of breath). …

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