Health experts say contact tracing is key to containing the virus and allowing places to reopen more safely.
The goal of contact tracing is to alert people who may have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, and prevent them from spreading it to others. But the process isn't easy.
After a person tests positive for the virus, a contact tracer would get in touch with the person and attempt to determine where they have been and who they were around.
The focus is on close contacts, or people who were within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 10 minutes or so. Those people would then be asked to self-isolate, monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested if needed.
For those showing symptoms, the tracing process would start all over again.
Contact tracing is done in a variety of ways around the world. But a common issue is that determining who a person has been around can get harder as gatherings with friends and family resume, and as bars, restaurants and other places start reopening.
Health officials could also become overwhelmed with cases. In the U.S. for example, local health departments may rely on automated texts to alert people who may have been exposed to an infected person. Health officials prefer to call people if possible because it can help build trust. But some people never return calls or texts.
There’s also pressure to act quickly. Ideally, most of a person’s contacts would be alerted within a day.
Covid-19 patients, who have recovered, could lose their immunity to the disease within months and that the virus could reinfect people year after year, like common colds, scientists say.
The study examined more than 90 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust and found levels of antibodies that can destroy the virus peaked about three weeks after the onset of symptoms then swiftly declined, reports The Guardian.
Besides, 60 percent of people marshalled a “potent” antibody response at the height of their battle with the virus, said the study after conducting their blood test. Only 17 percent retained the same potency three months later.
Antibody levels fell as much as 23-fold over the period. In some cases, they became undetectable, the study showed.
Dr Katie Doores, lead authoron the study at King’s College London, said that people are producing a reasonable antibody response to the virus, but it’s waning over a short period of time and "depending on how high your peak is, that determines how long the antibodies are staying around".
Researchers say the study has implications for the development of a vaccine, and for the pursuit of “herd immunity” in the community over time.
The immune system has multiple ways to fight the coronavirus but if antibodies are the main line of defence, the findings suggested people could become reinfected in seasonal waves and that vaccines may not protect them for long.
“Infection tends to give you the best-case scenario for an antibody response, so if your infection is giving you antibody levels that wane in two to three months, the vaccine will potentially do the same thing,” said Doores. “People may need boosting and one shot might not be sufficient."
Early results from the University of Oxford have shown that the coronavirus vaccine it is developing produces lower levels of antibodies in macaques than are seen in humans infected with the virus. While the vaccine appeared to protect the animals from serious infection, they still became infected and may have been able to pass on the virus.
Prof Robin Shattock of Imperial College London, said there was no certainty any of the vaccines in development would work, and noted that it is still unclear what kind of immune response is needed to prevent infection.
The King’s College study is the first to have monitored antibody levels in patients and hospital workers for three months after symptoms emerged. The scientists drew on test results from 65 patients and six healthcare workers who tested positive for the virus, and a further 31 staff who volunteered to have regular antibody tests between March and June.
The study, which has been submitted to a journal but has yet to be peer-reviewed, found that antibody levels rose higher and lasted longer in patients who were severe cases. This may be because the patients have more virus and churn out more antibodies to fight the infection.
There are four other types of coronavirus in widespread circulation, which cause the common cold. “One thing we know about these coronaviruses is that people can get reinfected fairly often,” said Prof Stuart Neil, a co-author on the study. “What that must mean is that the protective immunity people generate doesn’t last very long. It looks like Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, might be falling into that pattern as well.”
Prof Jonathan Heeney, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, said the study confirmed a growing body of evidence that immunity to Covid-19 is short-lived. “Most importantly, it puts another nail in the coffin of the dangerous concept of herd immunity,” he said.
Prof Arne Akbar, an immunologist at UCL, said antibodies are only part of the story. There is growing evidence, he said, that T cells produced to fight common colds can protect people as well. Those patients who fight the virus with T cells may not need to churn out high levels of antibodies, he added.
Apart from damaging lungs, coronavirus also affects kidneys, liver, heart, brain and nervous system, skin and gastrointestinal tract, a medical team of Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City said in a new report.
The medical team of the center in New York came up with the information in a review report published in the Nature Medicine journal.
Columbia University Irving Medical Center was flooded with patients that provided the medical team some real experiences. However, they collected reports from other medical teams around the world in this regard, they said.
The review by the doctors shows that the coronavirus attacks virtually every major system in the human body, directly damaging organs and causing the blood to clot, the heart to lose its healthy rhythm, the kidneys to shed blood and protein and the skin to erupt in rashes.
It also causes headaches, dizziness, muscle aches, stomach pain and other symptoms along with classic respiratory symptoms like coughing and fever.
Dr. Aakriti Gupta, a cardiology fellow at Columbia who worked on the review, in a statement, said, "Physicians need to think of COVID-19 as a multisystem disease."
"There's a lot of news about clotting but it's also important to understand that a substantial proportion of these patients suffer kidney, heart, and brain damage, and physicians need to treat those conditions along with the respiratory disease," she added.
According to the report, much of the damages wrought by the virus appear to come because of its affinity for a receptor — a kind of molecular doorway into cells — called ACE2.
Cells lining the blood vessels, in the kidneys, the liver ducts, the pancreas, in the intestinal tract and lining the respiratory tract all are covered with ACE2 receptors, which the virus can use to grapple and infect cells, the medical team said.
The medial team also wrote that "These findings suggest that multiple-organ injury may occur at least in part due to direct viral tissue damage."
The report also said the coronavirus infection also activates the immune system. Part of that response includes the production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines.
This inflammation can damage cells and organs and the so-called cytokine storm is one of the causes of severe symptoms, it said.
Dr. Mahesh Madhavan, another cardiology fellow, said, "This virus is unusual and it's hard not to take a step back and not be impressed by how many manifestations it has on the human body."
The researchers said blood clotting effects appear to be caused by several different mechanisms: direct damage of the cells lining the blood vessels and interference with the various clotting mechanisms in the blood itself.
Low blood oxygen caused by pneumonia can make the blood more likely to clot, they said adding that these clots can cause strokes and heart attacks or can lodge in the lungs or legs.
The researchers wrote that the virus affects the immune system, depleting the T-cells the body usually deploys to fight off viral infections. "Lymphopenia, a marker of impaired cellular immunity, is a cardinal laboratory finding reported in 67-90% of patients with COVID-19.”
Read Also: Extrapulmonary manifestations of COVID-19
Sleep disturbances, like having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, affect millions of people around the world.
The daytime sleepiness that follows can leave you feeling lousy and sap your productivity, and it may even harm your health.
Now, a small study suggests that mindfulness meditation — a mind-calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment — can help.
A study published a few years ago in JAMA Internal Medicine included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping. Half completed a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and other exercises designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.” The other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits.
Both groups met six times, once a week for two hours. Compared with the people in the sleep education group, those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions.
The findings come as no surprise to Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” says Dr. Benson.
The relaxation response, a term he coined in the 1970s, is a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress, says Dr. Benson.
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps you break the train of your everyday thoughts to evoke the relaxation response, using whatever technique feels right to you.
Dr. Benson recommends practicing mindfulness during the day, ideally for 20 minutes, the same amount suggested in the new study. “The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” he says. That way, it’s easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can’t sleep. In fact, the relaxation response is so, well, relaxing that your daytime practice should be done sitting up or moving (as in yoga or tai chi) so as to avoid nodding off.
Step 1: Choose a calming focus. Good examples are your breath, a sound (“Om”), a short prayer, a positive word (such as “relax” or “peace”), or a phrase (“breathing in calm, breathing out tension”; “I am relaxed”). If you choose a sound, repeat it aloud or silently as
you inhale or exhale.
Step 2: Let go and relax. Don’t worry about how you’re doing. When you notice your mind has wandered, simply take a deep breath or say to yourself “thinking, thinking” and gently return your attention to your chosen focus.
Due to the multifaceted consequences of the pandemic, numerous people are losing jobs or facing crisis in their career and family lives. As the educational institutes are closed, many students are getting addicted to technology, like virtual gaming on smartphones, which is disrupting their daily life activities and diet. All of these problems are causing depression and anxiety in people which is eventually leading to sleeplessness. Chronic sleep disorder or insomnia can make your body more vulnerable to the life-threatening COVID19 disease. Read this article to know how to sleep well during the pandemic.
Still today, the immunity system is your only weapon to fight against the attack of Coronavirus. Solid sleep at night can strengthen the natural immune system of your body; but how?
Research shows that sleep can foster T Cell production in the human body. T Cells are a kind of white blood cell that controls how your immune system is going to respond when any virus enters your body. Sleep deprivation can prevent 'T Cells' from responding efficiently which eventually makes it more difficult for the immune system of your body to kill the antigen virus and fight back against illnesses.
Furthermore, when you can successfully complete the four sleep cycles, your body can effectively produce and release a kind of essential protein substance called cytokine that can assist your immune system to respond against antigens quickly.
When you get good sleep, your mind can work better in doing complex thinking, learning, memorizing, and decision-making. For both kids and adults, regular sound sleep not only enhances mood, and prevents anxiety but also keeps the energy level high and helps them stay sharp.
Your internal circadian rhythm – which is also known as sleep/wake cycle or biological body clock – can naturally regulate the feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. If you can maintain a regular routine of bedtime and wakeup time for 7 days in every week, it can help your body clock work accordingly. Try not to break up the routine on weekends. Thus, you can have sound sleep every day amid pandemic.
Try to spend some time under bright sunlight during the morning. If you are locked down inside your home to prevent the virus contraction, then keep your windows opened to expose yourself to sunlight for at least the early hours of the day. This can improve your mood and help to regulate your circadian rhythms or body clock.
In addition to this, to have a better sleep at night, you need to limit the light exposure in the evening, especially from electronic devices, like a laptop, desktop, or Smartphone. It would be more effective if you can change the brightness of your device by activating “night mode” apps or features. This simple trick can reduce the lags of your brain preventing disturbances in your body clock. Thus, you can improve your sleep in the long term.
Due to the body clock (circadian rhythm), the adults may feel sleepy at day time at 2 or 3 pm and fall asleep at late night around 2 or 3 pm. To maintain a healthy sleep routine, you must avoid taking short naps during the afternoon or other periods in the day time.
However, if you have a very little sleep on the previous night, you can make an exception to break the routine. Regular daytime naps can reduce your body’s necessity of sleep can lead to insomnia.
As health experts are encouraging people to stay at home and maintain social distancing, the normal pace of life has been hampered. Many people are avoiding their respective regular outdoor physical activities – like walking, jogging, swimming, playing or going to the gym – and investing more time on screen for watching TV, Netflix, or checking social media, which is hampering their sleep time. If you can do some indoor physical exercise or Yoga every day, it would help you to build up enough body fatigue to fall asleep quite easily. Thus, you can enjoy better sleep.
Watching regular news to know how many people are getting affected or dying of COVID19 can enhance your worry. It can not only hamper your daily activities but also disturb your sleep on a regular basis. To avoid negative news you can limit your news exposure. If you are experiencing anxiety, do not hesitate to share your problems with family members, friends, or doctors.
You need to strengthen your bonding with family members to uplift your spirits and reduce anxiety. Besides this, you have to accept the fact that you may not have good sleep every night. Therefore, do not push yourself for sleep; rather try to manage your anxiety in a proper way.
A healthy diet can improve your quality of sleep. Try to avoid drinking tea or coffee during the evening or night hours, as the caffeine can stimulate your nerve and delay sleep in the night. However, if you cannot avoid caffeine after sunset, you can opt for organic teas – like Chamomile tea – which can naturally enhance the quality of your sleep. Furthermore, eating heavy meals before going to bed can also hamper your sleep.
The human brain works like a computer. Usually, the brain tends to relate to bed and darkness with falling asleep. This function of the brain can be disrupted if you engage with any activity like video games, physical activity, or surfing the internet before bedtime. To sleep like a baby, you need to avoid those devices at least 90 minutes before your scheduled sleep time. However, if you have an important office or business task, try to set them aside from a minimum of 30 minutes before going to bed.
However, if you cannot feel sleepy within 15 to 30 minutes after going to bed, try something soothing, like reading a book or listening to relaxing music until you fall asleep.