Stem Cells Fast Facts | CNN



CNN
 — 

Here is some background information about stem cells.

Scientists believe that stem cell research can be used to treat medical conditions including Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic

Stem cell research focuses on embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Stem cells have two characteristics that differentiate them from other types of cells:

– They are unspecialized cells that can replicate themselves through cell division over long periods of time.

– Stem cells can be manipulated, under certain conditions, to become mature cells with special functions, such as the beating cells of the heart muscle or insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.

There are many different types of stem cells, including: pluripotent stem cells and adult stem cells.
Pluripotent stem cells (ex: embryonic stem cells) can give rise to any type of cell in the body. These cells are like blank slates, and they have the potential to turn into any type of cell.
Adult stem cells can give rise to multiple types of cells, but are more limited compared with embryonic stem cells. They are more likely to generate within a particular tissue, organ or physiological system. (Ex: blood-forming stem cells/bone marrow cells, sometimes referred to as multipotent stem cells)

Embryonic stem cells are harvested from four to six-day-old embryos. These embryos are either leftover embryos in fertility clinics or embryos created specifically for harvesting stem cells by therapeutic cloning. Only South Korean scientists claim to have successfully created human embryos via therapeutic cloning and have harvested stem cells from them.

Adult stem cells are already designated for a certain organ or tissue. Some adult stem cells can be coaxed into or be reprogrammed into turning into a different type of specialized cell within the tissue type – for example, a heart stem cell can give rise to a functional heart muscle cell, but it is still unclear whether they can give rise to all different cell types of the body.

The primary role of adult stem cells is to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found.

Regenerative medicine uses cell-based therapies to treat disease.

Scientists who research stem cells are trying to identify how undifferentiated stem cells become differentiated as serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation.

Scientists believe stem cells can be used to generate cells and tissues that could be used for cell-based therapies as the need for donated organs and tissues outweighs the supply.

Stem cells, directed to differentiate into specific cell types, offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases, including Alzheimer’s diseases.

Cloning human embryos for stem cells is very controversial.

The goal of therapeutic cloning research is not to make babies, but to make embryonic stem cells, which can be harvested and used for cell-based therapies.

Using fertilized eggs left over at fertility clinics is also controversial because removing the stem cells destroys them.

Questions of ethics arise because embryos are destroyed as the cells are extracted, such as: When does human life begin? What is the moral status of the human embryo?

1998 – President Bill Clinton requests a National Bioethics Advisory Commission to study the question of stem cell research.

1999 – The National Bioethics Advisory Commission recommends that the government allow federal funds to be used to support research on human embryonic stem cells.

2000 – During his campaign, George W. Bush says he opposes any research that involves the destruction of embryos.

2000 – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issues guidelines for the use of embryonic stem cells in research, specifying that scientists receiving federal funds can use only extra embryos that would otherwise be discarded. President Clinton approves federal funding for stem cell research but Congress does not fund it.

August 9, 2001 – President Bush announces he will allow federal funding for about 60 existing stem cell lines created before this date.

January 18, 2002 – A panel of experts at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommends a complete ban on human reproductive cloning, but supports so-called therapeutic cloning for medical purposes.

February 27, 2002 – For the second time in two years, the House passes a ban on all cloning of human embryos.

July 11, 2002 – The President’s Council on Bioethics recommends a four-year ban on cloning for medical research to allow time for debate.

February 2005 – South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk publishes a study in Science announcing he has successfully created stem cell lines using therapeutic cloning.

December 2005 – Experts from Seoul National University accuse Hwang of faking some of his research. Hwang asks to have his paper withdrawn while his work is being investigated and resigns his post.

January 10, 2006 – An investigative panel from Seoul National University accuses Hwang of faking his research.

July 18, 2006 – The Senate votes 63-37 to loosen President Bush’s limits on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

July 19, 2006 – President Bush vetoes the embryonic stem-cell research bill passed by the Senate (the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005), his first veto since taking office.

June 20, 2007 – President Bush vetoes the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007.

January 23, 2009 – The FDA approves a request from Geron Corp. to test embryonic stem cells on eight to 10 patients with severe spinal cord injuries. This will be the world’s first test in humans of a therapy derived from human embryonic stem cells. The tests will use stem cells cultured from embryos left over in fertility clinics.

March 9, 2009 – President Barack Obama signs an executive order overturning an order signed by President Bush in August 2001 that barred the NIH from funding research on embryonic stem cells beyond using 60 cell lines that existed at that time.

August 23, 2010 – US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth issues a preliminary injunction that prohibits the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

September 9, 2010 – A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit grants a request from the Justice Department to lift a temporary injunction that blocked federal funding of stem cell research.

September 28, 2010 – The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit lifts an injunction imposed by a federal judge, thereby allowing federally funded embryonic stem-cell research to continue while the Obama Administration appeals the judge’s original ruling against use of public funds in such research.

October 8, 2010 – The first human is injected with cells from human embryonic stem cells in a clinical trial sponsored by Geron Corp.

November 22, 2010 – William Caldwell, CEO of Advanced Cell Technology, tells CNN that the FDA has granted approval for his company to start a clinical trial using cells grown from human embryonic stem cells. The treatment will be for an inherited degenerative eye disease.

April 29, 2011 – The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia lifts an injunction, imposed last year, banning the Obama administration from funding embryonic stem-cell research.

May 11, 2011 – Stem cell therapy in sports medicine is spotlighted after New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon is revealed to have had fat and bone marrow stem cells injected into his injured elbow and shoulder while in the Dominican Republic.

July 27, 2011 – Judge Lamberth dismisses a lawsuit that tried to block funding of stem cell research on human embryos.

February 13, 2012 – Early research published by scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University shows that a patient’s own stem cells can be used to regenerate heart tissue and help undo damage caused by a heart attack. It is the first instance of therapeutic regeneration.

May 2013 – Scientists make the first embryonic stem cell from human skin cells by reprogramming human skin cells back to their embryonic state, according to a study published in the journal, Cell.

April 2014 – For the first time scientists are able to use cloning technologies to generate stem cells that are genetically matched to adult patients,according to a study published in the journal, Cell Stem Cell.

October 2014 – Researchers say that human embryonic stem cells have restored the sight of several nearly blind patients – and that their latest study shows the cells are safe to use long-term. According to a report published in The Lancet, the researchers transplanted stem cells into 18 patients with severe vision loss as a result of two types of macular degeneration.

May 2, 2018 – The science journal Nature reports that scientists have created a structure like a blastocyst – an early embryo – using mouse stem cells instead of the usual sperm and egg.

June 4, 2018 – The University of California reports that the first in utero stem cell transplant trial has led to the live birth of an infant that had been diagnosed in utero with alpha thalassemia, a blood disorder that is usually fatal for fetuses.

January 13, 2020 – In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers announce they have created the world’s first living, self-healing robots using stem cells from frogs. Named xenobots after the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), the machines are less than a millimeter (0.04 inches) wide, small enough to travel inside human bodies. Less than two years later, scientists announce that these robots can now reproduce.

February 15, 2022 – A US woman becomes the third known person to go into HIV remission, and the first mixed-race woman, thanks to a transplant of stem cells from umbilical cord blood, according to research presented at a scientific conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

November 7, 2022 – Scientists announce they have transfused lab-made red blood cells grown from stem cells into a human volunteer in a world-first trial that experts say has major potential for people with hard-to-match blood types or conditions such as sickle cell disease.

Source link

#Stem #Cells #Fast #Facts #CNN

2001 Anthrax Attacks Fast Facts | CNN



CNN
 — 

Here’s a look at the 2001 anthrax attacks, also referred to as Amerithrax.

There are four types of anthrax infection: cutaneous (through the skin), inhalation (through the lungs; the most deadly), gastrointestinal (through digestion) and injection anthrax. Injection anthrax is common in heroin-injecting users in northern Europe. This has never been reported in the United States.

Anthrax can be contracted by handling products from infected animals or by breathing in anthrax spores and by eating undercooked meat from infected animals.

It has been blamed for several plagues over the ages that killed both humans and livestock. It emerged in World War I as a biological weapon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes anthrax as a Category A agent: one that poses the greatest possible threat for a negative impact on public health; one that may spread across a large area or need public awareness and requires planning to protect the public’s health.

Read more: America’s long and frightening history of attacks by mail

Five people died and 17 people were sickened during anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001; outbreak is often referred to as Amerithrax.

Anthrax was sent via anonymous letters to news agencies in Florida and New York and a congressional office building in Washington, DC.

Of the five victims who died of inhalation anthrax, two were postal workers. The other three victims were an elderly woman from rural Connecticut, a Manhattan hospital worker from the Bronx and an employee at a Florida tabloid magazine who may have contracted anthrax through cross-contamination.

The letters were sent to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and the New York Post offices. The letters were postmarked Trenton, New Jersey.

No arrests were made in the attacks.

The FBI has interviewed more than 10,000 people and issued more than 6,000 subpoenas in the case.

4.8 million masks and 88 million gloves were purchased by the Postal Service for its employees, and 300 postal facilities were tested for anthrax.

Over 32,000 people took antibiotics after possible exposure to anthrax.

Stevens, Bob – photo editor at American Media Inc, died of inhalation anthrax, October 5, 2001

Morris, Thomas Jr. – DC postal worker, died of inhalation anthrax, October 21, 2001

Curseen, Joseph Jr. – DC area postal worker, died of inhalation anthrax, October 22, 2001

Nguyen, Kathy – employee at Manhattan hospital, died of inhalation anthrax, October 31, 2001

Lundgren, Ottilie – Connecticut woman, died of inhalation anthrax, November 22, 2001

October 5, 2001 – Sun photo editor Stevens dies of inhalation anthrax.

October 12, 2001 – NBC News announces that an employee has contracted anthrax.

October 15, 2001 – A letter postmarked Trenton, New Jersey, opened by an employee of Senate Majority Leader Daschle contains white powdery substance later found to be “weapons grade” strain of anthrax spores. More than two dozen people in Daschle’s office test positive for anthrax after the envelope is discovered.

October 19, 2001 – An unopened letter tainted with anthrax is found in the offices of the New York Post. One Post employee is confirmed to have a cutaneous infection and a second shows symptoms of the same infection.

October 21, 2001 – DC postal worker Morris Jr. dies of inhalation anthrax.

October 22, 2001 – DC postal worker Curseen dies of inhalation anthrax.

October 31, 2001 – Nguyen, a stockroom worker for the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, dies of inhalation anthrax.

November 9, 2001 The FBI releases a behavioral profile of the suspect, who is probably a male loner and might work in a laboratory.

November 16, 2001 – A letter sent to Senator Leahy is found to contain anthrax. The letter is among those at the Capitol that has been quarantined. The letter contains at least 23,000 anthrax spores and is postmarked October 9, in Trenton, New Jersey.

November 22, 2001 – Lundgren, a 94-year-old Connecticut woman, dies of inhalation anthrax.

January 2002 – FBI agents interview former US Army bioweapons scientist Steven Hatfill as part of the anthrax investigation.

June 2002 – Bioweapons researcher Hatfill is named a “person of interest” by the FBI.

June 25, 2002 – The FBI searches Hatfill’s Maryland apartment and Florida storage locker with his consent.

June 27, 2002 The FBI says it is focusing on 30 biological weapons experts in its probe.

August 1, 2002 – The FBI uses a criminal search warrant to search Hatfill’s Maryland apartment and Florida storage locker a second time; anthrax swab tests come back negative.

August 6, 2002 Attorney General John Ashcroft refers to Hatfill as a “person of interest.”

August 11, 2002 – Hatfill holds a press conference declaring his innocence. He holds a second one on August 25, 2002.

September 11, 2002The FBI searches Hatfill’s former apartment in Maryland for the third time.

August 26, 2003 – Hatfill files a civil lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department and the FBI claiming his constitutional rights have been violated. The suit alleges violations of Hatfill’s Fifth Amendment rights by preventing him from earning a living, violations of his Fifth Amendment rights by retaliating against him after he sought to have his name cleared in the anthrax probe and the disclosure of information from his FBI file. The suit also seeks an undetermined amount of monetary damages.

July 11, 2004 – The former headquarters of American Media, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida, where Stevens contracted the anthrax is pumped full of chlorine dioxide gas for decontamination. This was the last building exposed to anthrax in the fall of 2001.

June 27, 2008 – The Justice Department reaches a settlement with Hatfill. The settlement requires the Justice Department to pay Hatfill a one-time payment of $2.825 million and to buy a $3 million annuity that will pay Hatfill $150,000 a year for 20 years. In return, Hatfill drops his lawsuit, and the government admits no wrongdoing.

July 29, 2008Bruce Ivins, a former researcher at the Army’s bioweapons laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland, dies after overdosing during a suicide attempt on July 27.

August 6, 2008 – Judge unseals and releases hundreds of documents in the 2001 FBI Anthrax investigation that detail Ivins’ role in the attacks.

August 8, 2008The Justice Department formally exonerates Hatfill.

September 25, 2008 – The court releases more documents including emails that Ivins sent to himself.

February 19, 2010 – The Justice Department, FBI and US Postal Inspection Service announce its investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings is at an end.

March 23, 2011 – A report, entitled The Amerithrax Case, is released through the Research Strategies Network, a non-profit think tank based in Virginia. According to the report, old mental health records suggest Ivins should have been prevented from holding a job at a US Army research facility in Maryland. The report was requested by the US Department of Justice.

October 9, 2011 – The New York Times reports indicate there are scientists questioning the FBI assertions regarding Ivins. Possibly Ivins, if he was involved, worked with a partner. Also, the scientists say the presence of tin in the dried anthrax warrants that the investigation be reopened.

November 23, 2011 – The Justice Department settles for $2.5 million with Stevens’ family. The family originally sued for $50 million in 2003, arguing that the military laboratory should have had tighter security.

December 19, 2014 – The Government Accountability Office releases a 77-page report reviewing the genetic testing used by the FBI during the investigation into the anthrax attacks.

Source link

#Anthrax #Attacks #Fast #Facts #CNN

Avian Flu Fast Facts | CNN



CNN
 — 

Here’s a look at avian flu.

Avian influenza, also called avian flu or bird flu, is an illness that usually affects only birds.

There are many different strains of avian flu: 16 H subtypes and 9 N subtypes. Only those labeled H5, H7 and H10 have caused deaths in humans.

The most commonly seen and most deadly form of the virus is called “Influenza A (H5N1),” or the “H5N1 virus.”

Most cases of human bird flu infections are due to contact with infected poultry or surfaces that are contaminated with infected bird excretions: saliva, nasal secretions or feces.

Symptoms of avian flu include fever, cough, sore throat and sometimes severe respiratory diseases and pneumonia.

The CDC recommends oral oseltamivir (brand name: Tamiflu), inhaled zanamivir (brand name: Relenza) and intravenous permavir (brand name: Rapivab) for the treatment of human illness associated with avian flu.

The mortality rate is close to 60% for infected humans.

Early 1900s –The avian flu is first identified in Italy.

1961 – The H5N1 strain is isolated in birds in South Africa.

December 1983 – Chickens in Pennsylvania and Virginia are exposed to the avian flu and more than five million birds are killed to stop the disease from spreading.

1997 – Eighteen people are infected by the H5N1 strain in Hong Kong, six die. These are the first documented cases of human infection. Hong Kong destroys its entire poultry population, 1.5 million birds.

1999 Two children in Hong Kong are infected by the H9N2 strain.

February 2003 – Eighty-four people in the Netherlands are affected by the H7N7 strain of the virus, one dies.

February 7, 2004 – Twelve thousand chickens are killed in Kent County, Delaware, after they are found to be infected with the H7 virus.

October 7, 2005The avian flu reaches Europe. Romanian officials quarantine a village of about 30 people after three dead ducks there test positive for bird flu.

November 12, 2005 – A one-year-old boy in Thailand tests positive for the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

November 16, 2005 – The World Health Organization confirms two human cases of bird flu in China, including a female poultry worker who died from the H5N1 strain.

November 17, 2005 Two deaths are confirmed in Indonesia from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

January 1, 2006 – A Turkish teenager dies of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Istanbul, and later that week, two of his sisters die.

January 17, 2006 – A 15-year-old girl from northern Iraq dies after contracting bird flu.

February 20, 2006Vietnam becomes the first country to successfully contain the disease. A country is considered disease-free when no new cases are reported in 21 days.

March 12, 2006Officials in Cameroon confirm cases of the H5N1 strain. The avian flu has now reached four African countries.

March 13, 2006 – The avian flu is confirmed by officials in Myanmar.

May 11, 2006 Djibouti announces its first cases of H5N1 – several birds and one human.

December 20, 2011 – The US Department of Health and Human Services releases a statement saying that the government is urging scientific journals to omit details from research they intend to publish on the transfer of H5N1 among mammals. There is concern that the information could be misused by terrorists.

July 31, 2012Scientists announce that H3N8, a new strain of avian flu, caused the death of more than 160 baby seals in New England in 2011.

March 31, 2013 – Chinese authorities report the first human cases of infection of avian flu H7N9 to the World Health Organization. H7N9 has not previously been detected in humans.

December 6, 2013 – A 73-year-old woman infected with H10N8 dies in China, the first human fatality from this strain.

January 8, 2014 – Canadian health officials confirm that a resident from Alberta has died from H5N1 avian flu, the first case of the virus in North America. It is also the first case of H5N1 infection ever imported by a traveler into a country where the virus is not present in poultry.

April 20, 2015 – Officials say more than five million hens will be euthanized after bird flu was detected at a commercial laying facility in northwest Iowa. According to the US Department of Agriculture, close to eight million cases of bird flu have been detected in 13 states since December. Health officials say there is little to no risk for transmission to humans with respect to H5N2. No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.

January 15, 2016 – The US Department of Agriculture confirms that a commercial turkey farm in Dubois County, Indiana, has tested positive for the H7N8 strain of avian influenza.

January 24, 2017 – Britain’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs releases a statement confirming that a case of H5N8 avian flu has been detected in a flock of farmed breeding pheasants in Preston, UK. The flock is estimated to contain around 10,000 birds. The statement adds that a number of those birds have died, and the remaining live birds at the premises are being “humanely” killed because of the disease.

February 12, 2017 – A number of provinces in China have shut down their live poultry markets to prevent the spread of avian flu after a surge in the number of infections from the H7N9 strain. At least six provinces have reported human cases of H7N9 influenza this year, according to Chinese state media, Xinhua.

March 5-7, 2017 – The USDA confirms that a commercial chicken farm in Tennessee has tested positive for the H7N9 strain of avian flu, but says it is genetically different from the H7N9 lineage out of China. The 73,500-bird flock in Lincoln County will be euthanized, according to Tyson Foods.

February 14, 2018 – Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection announces that a 68-year-old woman has been treated for the H7N4 strain. This is the first case of this strain in a human.

June 5, 2019 – Since 2013 there have been 1,568 confirmed human cases and 616 deaths worldwide from the H7N9 strain of avian flu, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

December 2019 – The United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs confirms that a case of H5N1 avian flu has been detected at a poultry farm in Suffolk. 27,000 birds are humanely killed because of the disease.

April 9, 2020 – The USDA confirms that a commercial turkey flock in Chesterfield County, South Carolina has tested positive for the H7N3 strain of avian flu.

January 2021 – India culls tens of thousands of poultry birds after avian influenza is detected in ducks, crows and wild geese in at least a dozen locations across the country.

February 18, 2021 – Russian authorities notify WHO that they have detected H5N8 in humans. “If confirmed, this would be the first time H5N8 has infected people,” a WHO Europe spokesperson says in a statement.

June 1, 2021 – China’s National Health Commission announces the first human case of H10N3.

February 2022 – The USDA confirms that wild birds and domestic poultry in the United States have tested positive for the H5N1 strain of avian flu. By May 17, 2023, the CDC reports there are 47 states with poultry outbreaks.

April 26, 2022 – China’s National Health Commission announces the first human case of H3N8.

April 28, 2022 – The CDC announces a case of H5 bird flu has been confirmed in a man in Colorado.

Source link

#Avian #Flu #Fast #Facts #CNN

Covid-19 Pandemic Timeline Fast Facts | CNN



CNN
 — 

Here’s a look at the coronavirus outbreak, declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization. The coronavirus, called Covid-19 by WHO, originated in China and is the cousin of the SARS virus.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

WHO Situation Reports

Coronavirus Map

CNN’s early reporting on the coronavirus

December 31, 2019 – Cases of pneumonia detected in Wuhan, China, are first reported to WHO. During this reported period, the virus is unknown. The cases occur between December 12 and December 29, according to Wuhan Municipal Health.

January 1, 2020 – Chinese health authorities close the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market after it is discovered that wild animals sold there may be the source of the virus.

January 5, 2020 – China announces that the unknown pneumonia cases in Wuhan are not SARS or MERS. In a statement, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission says a retrospective probe into the outbreak has been initiated.

January 7, 2020 – Chinese authorities confirm that they have identified the virus as a novel coronavirus, initially named 2019-nCoV by WHO.

January 11, 2020 – The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announces the first death caused by the coronavirus. A 61-year-old man, exposed to the virus at the seafood market, died on January 9 after respiratory failure caused by severe pneumonia.

January 17, 2020 – Chinese health officials confirm that a second person has died in China. The United States responds to the outbreak by implementing screenings for symptoms at airports in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

January 20, 2020 – China reports 139 new cases of the sickness, including a third death. On the same day, WHO’s first situation report confirms cases in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

January 20, 2020 – The National Institutes of Health announces that it is working on a vaccine against the coronavirus. “The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

January 21, 2020 – Officials in Washington state confirm the first case on US soil.

January 23, 2020 – At an emergency committee, WHO says that the coronavirus does not yet constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

January 23, 2020 – The Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau cancels all large-scale Lunar New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of coronavirus. On the same day, Chinese authorities enforce a partial lockdown of transport in and out of Wuhan. Authorities in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou Huanggang announce a series of similar measures.

January 28, 2020 – Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom in Beijing. At the meeting, Xi and WHO agree to send a team of international experts, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff, to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak.

January 29, 2020 – The White House announces the formation of a new task force that will help monitor and contain the spread of the virus, and ensure Americans have accurate and up-to-date health and travel information, it says.

January 30, 2020 – The United States reports its first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus. On the same day, WHO determines that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

January 31, 2020 – The Donald Trump administration announces it will deny entry to foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last 14 days.

February 2, 2020 – A man in the Philippines dies from the coronavirus – the first time a death has been reported outside mainland China since the outbreak began.

February 3, 2020 – China’s Foreign Ministry accuses the US government of inappropriately reacting to the outbreak and spreading fear by enforcing travel restrictions.

February 4, 2020 – The Japanese Health Ministry announces that ten people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored in Yokohama Bay are confirmed to have the coronavirus. The ship, which is carrying more than 3,700 people, is placed under quarantine scheduled to end on February 19.

February 6, 2020 – First Covid-19 death in the United States: A person in California’s Santa Clara County dies of coronavirus, but the link is not confirmed until April 21.

February 7, 2020 – Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who was targeted by police for trying to sound the alarm on a “SARS-like” virus in December, dies of the coronavirus. Following news of Li’s death, the topics “Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology,” and “We want freedom of speech,” trend on China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo, before disappearing from the heavily censored platform.

February 8, 2020 – The US Embassy in Beijing confirms that a 60-year-old US national died in Wuhan on February 6, marking the first confirmed death of a foreigner.

February 10, 2020 – Xi inspects efforts to contain the coronavirus in Beijing, the first time he has appeared on the front lines of the fight against the outbreak. On the same day, a team of international experts from WHO arrive in China to assist with containing the coronavirus outbreak.

February 10, 2020 – The Anthem of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, sets sail from Bayonne, New Jersey, after a coronavirus scare had kept it docked and its passengers waiting for days.

February 11, 2020 – WHO names the coronavirus Covid-19.

February 13, 2020 – China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency announces that Shanghai mayor Ying Yong will be replacing Jiang Chaoliang amid the outbreak. Wuhan Communist Party chief Ma Guoqiang has also been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party chief of Jinan city in Shandong province, according to Xinhua.

February 14, 2020 – A Chinese tourist who tested positive for the virus dies in France, becoming the first person to die in the outbreak in Europe. On the same day, Egypt announces its first case of coronavirus, marking the first case in Africa.

February 15, 2020 – The official Communist Party journal Qiushi publishes the transcript of a speech made on February 3 by Xi in which he “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus” on January 7, revealing Xi knew about and was directing the response to the virus on almost two weeks before he commented on it publicly.

February 17, 2020 – A second person in California’s Santa Clara County dies of coronavirus, but the link is not confirmed until April 21.

February 18, 2020 – Xi says in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that China’s measures to prevent and control the epidemic “are achieving visible progress,” according to state news Xinhua.

February 21, 2020 – The CDC changes criteria for counting confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States and begins tracking two separate and distinct groups: those repatriated by the US Department of State and those identified by the US public health network.

February 25, 2020 – The NIH announces that a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug remdesivir in adults diagnosed with coronavirus has started at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The first participant is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

February 25, 2020 – In an effort to contain the largest outbreak in Europe, Italy’s Lombardy region press office issues a list of towns and villages that are in complete lockdown. Around 100,000 people are affected by the travel restrictions.

February 26, 2020 – CDC officials say that a California patient being treated for novel coronavirus is the first US case of unknown origin. The patient, who didn’t have any relevant travel history nor exposure to another known patient, is the first possible US case of “community spread.”

February 26, 2020 – Trump places Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US government response to the novel coronavirus, amid growing criticism of the White House’s handling of the outbreak.

February 29, 2020 – A patient dies of coronavirus in Washington state. For almost two months, this is considered the first death due to the virus in the United States, until autopsy results announced April 21 reveal two earlier deaths in California.

March 3, 2020 – The Federal Reserve slashes interest rates by half a percentage point in an attempt to give the US economy a jolt in the face of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. It is the first unscheduled, emergency rate cut since 2008, and it also marks the biggest one-time cut since then.

March 3, 2020 – Officials announce that Iran will temporarily release 54,000 people from prisons and deploy hundreds of thousands of health workers as officials announced a slew of measures to contain the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak outside China. It is also announced that 23 members of Iran’s parliament tested positive for the virus.

March 4, 2020 – The CDC formally removes earlier restrictions that limited coronavirus testing of the general public to people in the hospital, unless they had close contact with confirmed coronavirus cases. According to the CDC, clinicians should now “use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested.”

March 8, 2020 – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signs a decree placing travel restrictions on the entire Lombardy region and 14 other provinces, restricting the movements of more than 10 million people in the northern part of the country.

March 9, 2020 – Conte announces that the whole country of Italy is on lockdown.

March 11, 2020 – WHO declares the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. WHO says the outbreak is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. In an Oval Office address, Trump announces that he is restricting travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. The ban, which applies to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, applies only to foreign nationals and not American citizens and permanent residents who’d be screened before entering the country.

March 13, 2020 – Trump declares a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat coronavirus.

March 18, 2020 – Trump signs into law a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for Covid-19 and paid emergency leave.

March 19, 2020 – At a news conference, officials from China’s National Health Commission report no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began.

March 23, 2020 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres calls for an immediate global ceasefire amid the pandemic to fight “the common enemy.”

March 24, 2020 – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach agree to postpone the Olympics until 2021 amid the outbreak.

March 25, 2020 – The White House and Senate leaders reach an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus deal to offset the economic damage of coronavirus, producing one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures in the history of Congress.

March 27, 2020 – Trump signs the stimulus package into law.

April 2, 2020 – According to the Department of Labor, 6.6 million US workers file for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28, the highest number of initial claims in history. Globally, the total number of coronavirus cases surpasses 1 million, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

April 3, 2020 – Trump says his administration is now recommending Americans wear “non-medical cloth” face coverings, a reversal of previous guidance that suggested masks were unnecessary for people who weren’t sick.

April 8, 2020 – China reopens Wuhan after a 76-day lockdown.

April 14, 2020 – Trump announces he is halting funding to WHO while a review is conducted, saying the review will cover WHO’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.”

April 20, 2020 – Chilean health officials announce that Chile will begin issuing the world’s first digital immunity cards to people who have recovered from coronavirus, saying the cards will help identify individuals who no longer pose a health risk to others.

April 21, 2020 – California’s Santa Clara County announces autopsy results that show two Californians died of novel coronavirus in early and mid-February – up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus.

April 28, 2020 – The United States passes one million confirmed cases of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.

May 1, 2020 – The US Food and Drug Administration issues an emergency-use authorization for remdesivir in hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn says remdesivir is the first authorized therapy drug for Covid-19.

May 4, 2020 – During a virtual pledging conference co-hosted by the European Union, world leaders pledge a total of $8 billion for the development and deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

May 11, 2020 – Trump and his administration announce that the federal government is sending $11 billion to states to expand coronavirus testing capabilities. The relief package signed on April 24 includes $25 billion for testing, with $11 billion for states, localities, territories and tribes.

May 13, 2020 – Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, warns that the coronavirus may never go away and may just join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year.

May 19, 2020 – WHO agrees to hold an inquiry into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. WHO member states adopt the proposal with no objections during the World Health Assembly meeting, after the European Union and Australia led calls for an investigation.

May 23, 2020 – China reports no new symptomatic coronavirus cases, the first time since the beginning of the outbreak in December.

May 27, 2020 – Data collected by Johns Hopkins University reports that the coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 people across the US, meaning that an average of almost 900 Americans died each day since the first known coronavirus-related death was reported nearly four months earlier.

June 2, 2020 – Wuhan’s Health Commission announces that it has completed coronavirus tests on 9.9 million of its residents with no new confirmed cases found.

June 8, 2020 – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces that almost all coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand will be lifted after the country reported no active cases.

June 11, 2020 – The United States passes 2 million confirmed cases of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.

June 16, 2020 – University of Oxford scientists leading the Recovery Trial, a large UK-based trial investigating potential Covid-19 treatments, announce that a low-dose regimen of dexamethasone for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation in the trial.

June 20, 2020 – The NIH announces that it has halted a clinical trial evaluating the safety and effectiveness of drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. “A data and safety monitoring board met late Friday and determined that while there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19,” the NIH says in a statement.

June 26, 2020 – During a virtual media briefing, WHO announces that it plans to deliver about 2 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine to people across the globe. One billion of those doses will be purchased for low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO.

July 1, 2020 – The European Union announces it will allow travelers from 14 countries outside the bloc to visit EU countries, months after it shut its external borders in response to the pandemic. The list does not include the US, which doesn’t meet the criteria set by the EU for it to be considered a “safe country.”

July 6, 2020 – In an open letter published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, 239 scientists from around the world urge WHO and other health agencies to be more forthright in explaining the potential airborne transmission of coronavirus. In the letter, scientists write that studies “have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking, and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in air and pose a risk of exposure at distances beyond 1 to 2 meters (yards) from an infected individual.”

July 7, 2020 – The Trump administration notifies Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from WHO. The withdrawal goes into effect on July 6, 2021.

July 21, 2020 – European leaders agree to create a €750 billion ($858 billion) recovery fund to rebuild EU economies ravaged by the coronavirus.

July 27, 2020 – A vaccine being developed by the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in partnership with the biotechnology company Moderna, enters Phase 3 testing. The trial is expected to enroll about 30,000 adult volunteers and evaluates the safety of the vaccine and whether it can prevent symptomatic Covid-19 after two doses, among other outcomes.

August 11, 2020 – In a live teleconference, Russian President Vladimir Putin announces that Russia has approved a coronavirus vaccine for public use before completion of Phase 3 trials, which usually precedes approval. The vaccine, which is named Sputnik-V, is developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute with funding from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

August 15, 2020 – Russia begins production on Sputnik-V, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

August 23, 2020 – The FDA issues an emergency use authorization for the use of convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19. It is made using the blood of people who have recovered from coronavirus infections.

August 27, 2020 – The CDC notifies public health officials around the United States to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October. In the documents, posted by The New York Times, the CDC provides planning scenarios to help states prepare and advises on who should get vaccinated first – healthcare professionals, essential workers, national security “populations” and long-term care facility residents and staff.

September 4, 2020 – The first peer-reviewed results of Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine are published in the medical journal The Lancet. The results “have a good safety profile” and the vaccine induced antibody responses in all participants, The Lancet says.

October 2, 2020 – Trump announces that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19. He spends three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center receiving treatment before returning to the White House.

October 12, 2020 – Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson announces it has paused the advanced clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers.”Following our guidelines, the participant’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated by the ENSEMBLE independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as well as our internal clinical and safety physicians,” the company said in a statement. ENSEMBLE is the name of the study. The trial resumes later in the month.

December 10, 2020 – Vaccine advisers to the FDA vote to recommend the agency grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine.

December 14, 2020 – US officials announce the first doses of the FDA authorized Pfizer vaccine have been delivered to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

December 18, 2020 – The FDA authorizes a second coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna for emergency use. “The emergency use authorization allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years and older,” the FDA said in a tweet.

January 14, 2021 – The WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of the outbreak in Wuhan arrive in China.

January 20, 2021 – Newly elected US President Joe Biden halts the United States’ withdrawal from WHO.

February 22, 2021 – The death toll from Covid-19 exceeds 500,000 in the United States.

February 27, 2021 – The FDA grants emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, the first single dose Covid-19 vaccine available in the US.

March 30, 2021 – According to a 120-page report from WHO, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 probably spread to people through an animal, and probably started spreading among humans no more than a month or two before it was noticed in December of 2019. The report says a scenario where it spread via an intermediate animal host, possibly a wild animal captured and then raised on a farm, is “very likely.”

April 17, 2021 – The global tally of deaths from Covid-19 surpasses 3 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins.

August 3, 2021 – According to figures published by the CDC, the more contagious Delta variant accounts for an estimated 93.4% of coronavirus circulating in the United States during the last two weeks of July. The figures show a rapid increase over the past two months, up from around 3% in the two weeks ending May 22.

August 12, 2021 – The FDA authorizes an additional Covid-19 vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised people.

August 23, 2021 – The FDA grants full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older, making it the first coronavirus vaccine approved by the FDA.

September 24, 2021 CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky diverges from the agency’s independent vaccine advisers to recommend boosters for a broader group of people – those ages 18 to 64 who are at increased risk of Covid-19 because of their workplaces or institutional settings – in addition to older adults, long-term care facility residents and some people with underlying health conditions.

November 2, 2021 – Walensky says she is endorsing a recommendation to vaccinate children ages 5-11 against Covid-19, clearing the way for immediate vaccination of the youngest age group yet in the US.

November 19, 2021 – The FDA authorizes boosters of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for all adults. The same day, the CDC also endorses boosters for all adults.

December 16, 2021 – The CDC changes its recommendations for Covid-19 vaccines to make clear that shots made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are preferred over Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

December 22, 2021 – The FDA authorizes Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, to treat Covid-19, the first antiviral Covid-19 pill authorized in the United States for ill people to take at home, before they get sick enough to be hospitalized. The following day, the FDA authorizes Merck’s antiviral pill, molnupiravir.

December 27, 2021 The CDC shortens the recommended times that people should isolate when they’ve tested positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to five days if they don’t have symptoms – and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days. The CDC also shortens the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus to a similar five days if they are vaccinated.

January 31, 2022 – The FDA grants full approval to Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for those ages 18 and older. This is the second coronavirus vaccine given full approval by the FDA.

March 29, 2022 – The FDA authorizes a second booster of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for adults 50 and older. That same day, the CDC also endorses a second booster for the same age group.

April 25, 2022 – The FDA expands approval of the drug remdesivir to treat patients as young as 28 days and weighing about seven pounds.

May 17, 2022 – The FDA authorizes a booster dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 at least five months after completion of the primary vaccine series. On May 19, the CDC also endorses a booster dose for the same age group.

June 18, 2022 – The CDC recommends Covid-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months.

August 31, 2022 – The FDA authorizes updated Covid-19 vaccine booster shots from Moderna and Pfizer. Both are bivalent vaccines that combine the companies’ original vaccine with one that targets the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sublineages. The CDC signs off on the updated booster shots the following day.

May 5, 2023 – The WHO says Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency.



Source link

#Covid19 #Pandemic #Timeline #Fast #Facts #CNN

End of data sharing could make Covid-19 harder to control, experts and high-risk patients warn | CNN



KFF Health News
 — 

Joel Wakefield isn’t just an armchair epidemiologist. His interest in tracking the spread of covid is personal.

The 58-year-old lawyer who lives in Phoenix has an immunodeficiency disease that increases his risk of severe outcomes from covid-19 and other infections. He has spent lots of time since 2020 checking state, federal, and private sector covid trackers for data to inform his daily decisions.

“I’m assessing ‘When am I going to see my grandkids? When am I going to let my own kids come into my house?’ ” he said.

Many Americans have moved on from the pandemic, but for the millions who are immunocompromised or otherwise more vulnerable to covid, reliable data remains important in assessing safety.

“I don’t have that luxury to completely shrug it off,” Wakefield said.

The federal government’s public health emergency that’s been in effect since January 2020 expires May 11. The emergency declaration allowed for sweeping changes in the U.S. health care system, like requiring state and local health departments, hospitals, and commercial labs to regularly share data with federal officials.

But some shared data requirements will come to an end and the federal government will lose access to key metrics as a skeptical Congress seems unlikely to grant agencies additional powers. And private projects, like those from The New York Times and Johns Hopkins University, which made covid data understandable and useful for everyday people, stopped collecting data in March.

Public health legal scholars, data experts, former and current federal officials, and patients at high risk of severe covid outcomes worry the scaling back of data access could make it harder to control covid.

There have been improvements in recent years, such as major investments in public health infrastructure and updated data reporting requirements in some states. But concerns remain that the overall shambolic state of U.S. public health data infrastructure could hobble the response to any future threats.

“We’re all less safe when there’s not the national amassing of this information in a timely and coherent way,” said Anne Schuchat, former principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A lack of data in the early days of the pandemic left federal officials, like Schuchat, with an unclear picture of the rapidly spreading coronavirus. And even as the public health emergency opened the door for data-sharing, the CDC labored for months to expand its authority.

Eventually, more than a year into the pandemic, the CDC gained access to data from private health care settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, commercial labs, and state and local health departments.

CDC officials have been working to retain its authority over some information, such as vaccination records, said Director Rochelle Walensky.

Walensky told the U.S. House in February that expanding the CDC’s ability to collect public health data is critical to its ability to respond to threats.

“The public expects that we will jump on things before they become public health emergencies,” she later told KFF Health News. “We can’t do that if we don’t have access to data.”

The agency is negotiating information-sharing agreements with dozens of state and local governments, Walensky said, as well as partnering with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It is also lobbying for the legal power to access data from both public and private parts of the health care system. The hospital data reporting requirement was decoupled from the health emergency and is set to expire next year.

But it’s an uphill battle.

“Some of those data points we may not have anymore,” Walensky said, noting how access to covid test results from labs will disappear. That data became a less precise indicator as people turned to at-home testing.

Moving forward, Walensky said, the CDC’s covid tracking will resemble its seasonal flu surveillance, which uses information from sample sites to establish broad trends. It’ll offer a less granular view of how covid is spreading, which experts worry could make it harder to notice troubling new viral variants early.

Overall, federal courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — have not been supportive of expanded public health powers in recent years. Some issued rulings to block mask mandates, pause mandatory covid vaccination requirements, and end the nationwide eviction moratorium.

Such power limits leave the CDC with its “utterly dysfunctional, antiquated” data collection system, said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. It’s like a “mosaic,” he said, in which states and territories collect data their own way and decide how much to share with federal officials.

Although covid numbers are trending down, the CDC still counts thousands of new infections and hundreds of new deaths each week. More than 1,000 Americans are also hospitalized with covid complications daily.

“When we stop looking, it makes it all more invisible,” Gostin said. “Covid knowledge and awareness is going to melt into the background.”

State and local public health officials are generally willing to share data with federal agencies, but they often run into legal hurdles that prevent them from doing so, said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

It will take a lot of work to loosen state restrictions on public health data. And the political will may be lacking, considering many jurisdictions have rolled back public health powers in recent years. Until rules change, the CDC’s power to help states is limited, Plescia said.

“Their hands are tied a little bit in how much they can do,” he said.

Public health officials rely on data to target interventions and track how well they’re working. A lack of information can create blind spots that exacerbate poor outcomes for high-risk populations, said Denise Chrysler, a senior adviser for the Network for Public Health Law.

“If you don’t have the data, you can’t locate who you’re failing to serve. They’re going to fall between the cracks,” she said.

The lack of covid data broken down by race and ethnicity in the early days of the pandemic obscured the outsize impact covid had on marginalized groups, such as Black and Hispanic people, Chrysler said. Some states, like New Jersey and Arizona, issued rules to mandate the collection of race and ethnicity data for covid, but they were temporary and tied to state emergency declarations, she said.

Inconsistent local data precipitated the end of privately run projects that supplemented government resources.

The available data researchers could pull from “was just terrible,” said Beth Blauer, associate vice provost for public sector innovation at Johns Hopkins, who helped launch its dashboard. The decision to end the program was practical.

“We were relying on publicly available data sources, and the quality had rapidly eroded in the last year,” she said.

The fast collapse of the data network also raises questions about state and local agencies’ long-term investments in tracking covid and other threats.

“I wish that we had a set of data that would help us guide personal decision-making,” Blauer said. “Because I’m still fearful of a pandemic that we don’t really know a ton about.”

To Schuchat, formerly of the CDC, there’s a lot of ground to regain after years of underinvestment in public health, long before the covid pandemic — and high stakes in ensuring good data systems.

The CDC’s detection of a vaping-related lung illness in 2019 was recognized after case reports from a hospital in Wisconsin, she said. And she attributed the nation’s slow reaction to the opioid crisis on poor access to emergency room data showing a troubling trend in overdoses.

“We’re much better when we detect things before there’s an emergency,” Schuchat said. “We can prevent major emergencies from happening.”

Source link

#data #sharing #Covid19 #harder #control #experts #highrisk #patients #warn #CNN

Up to 20,000 people who attended a religious gathering may have been exposed to measles. What should they do next? | CNN



CNN
 — 

Up to 20,000 people who attended a religious gathering at a college in Wilmore, Kentucky, in February could have been exposed to a person later diagnosed with measles.

On Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to clinicians and public health officials about the confirmed case of measles in an individual present at the gathering who had not been vaccinated against the disease.

“If you attended the Asbury University gathering on February 17 or 18 and you are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against measles, you should quarantine for 21 days after your last exposure and monitor yourself for symptoms of measles so that you do not spread measles to others,” according to the CDC advisory.

The CDC also recommended that people who are unvaccinated receive the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Reading this news, people may have questions about measles, including its symptoms, infection outcomes and who is most at risk. They may also want to know what makes measles so contagious, what has been the cause of recent outbreaks and how effective the MMR vaccine is.

To help answer these questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Previously, she served as Baltimore’s health commissioner, where her duties included overseeing the city’s immunization and infectious disease investigations.

CNN: What is measles, and what are the symptoms?

Dr. Leana Wen: Measles is an extremely contagious illness that’s caused by the measles virus. Despite many public health advances, including the development of the MMR vaccine, it remains a major cause of death among children globally.

The measles virus is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected individuals. If someone is infected and coughs or sneezes, droplets can land on you and infect you. These droplets can land on surfaces, and if you touch the surface and then touch your nose or mouth, that could infect you, too.

Symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after infection. They include a high fever, runny nose, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and small, painless white spots on the inside of the mouth. A few days after these symptoms begin, many individuals develop a characteristic rash — flat red spots that generally start on the face and then spread downward over the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet. The spots can become joined together as they spread and can be accompanied by a high fever.

A nurse gives a woman a measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccin at the Utah County Health Department on April 29, 2019 in Provo, Utah.

CNN: What are outcomes of measles infections? Who is most at risk?

Wen: Many individuals recover without incident. Others, however, can develop severe complications.

One in five unvaccinated people with measles are hospitalized, according to the CDC. As many as 1 out of every 20 children with measles will get pneumonia; about 1 in 1,000 who get measles can develop encephalitis, a swelling of the brain that can lead to seizures and leave the child with lasting disabilities. And nearly 1 to 3 out of every 1,000 children who are infected with measles will die.

Measles is not only a concern for children. It can also cause premature births in pregnant women who contract it. Immunocompromised people, such as cancer patients and those infected with HIV, are also at increased risk.

CNN: What makes measles so contagious?

Wen: Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world — up to 90% of the unvaccinated people who come into contact with a contagious individual will also become infected. The measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves an area.

Another reason why measles spreads so easily is its long incubation period. In infected people, the time from exposure to fever is an average of about 10 days, and from exposure to rash onset is about 14 days — but could be up to 21 days. In addition, infected people are contagious from four days before rash starts through four days after. That’s a long period of time where they could unknowingly infect others.

CNN: What has been the cause of recent measles outbreaks?

Wen: It’s important to note that this incident in Kentucky is not yet considered an outbreak. Only one person has been diagnosed with measles. That person was possibly exposed to many others given the number of people in attendance at this gathering, but we don’t know yet if any of those people were infected.

But let’s look at a recent example of a confirmed outbreak in the US: In November 2022, health officials in central Ohio raised alarm over young children being diagnosed with measles. In all, 85 children got sick. None of the children died, but 36 needed to be hospitalized. All those infected were either unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated.

Health officials were able to contain the outbreak through contact tracing, vaccination and other public health measures in early February, and it was declared over. But there is concern it won’t be the last of its kind. A study from the CDC reported the rate of immunizations for required vaccines among kindergarten students nationwide dropped from 95% in the 2019-20 school year to 93% in the 2021-22 school year. Some communities have far lower rates than this national average, however, which can lead to outbreaks — not only of measles but also diseases like polio that can also have severe consequences.

CNN: How effective is the MMR vaccine?

Wen: The MMR vaccine is a two-dose vaccine. The recommendation is for children to receive the first dose at age 12-15 months and the second dose at age 4-6 years. One dose of the MMR vaccine 93% effective at preventing measles infection. Two doses are 97% effective.

CNN: What is the best way to protect against measles?

Wen: The MMR vaccine is an extremely safe and very effective vaccine and is recognized as a significant public health advance for preventing an otherwise extremely contagious disease from spreading and causing potentially very severe — even fatal — outcomes.

Consider that the vaccine was licensed in the US in 1963. In the four years before that, there were an average of more than 500,000 cases of measles every year and over 430 measles-associated deaths. By 1998, there were just 89 cases and no measles-associated deaths. That’s a huge public health triumph.

Young children should receive the vaccine according to the recommended schedule. Older kids and adults who never received it should also discuss getting it with their health care provider. And clinicians and public health officials in the US and around the world should redouble efforts to increase routine childhood immunizations so as to stop preventable diseases from making a comeback.

Source link

#people #attended #religious #gathering #exposed #measles #CNN

Ohio, Pennsylvania offer health services following train derailment, but some residents feel skeptical | CNN


Darlington Township, Pennsylvania
CNN
 — 

The municipal building in tiny Darlington Township, Pennsylvania, was buzzing with activity on Wednesday afternoon as a stream of locals arrived seeking information on health screenings, chemical exposures and well testing.

Darlington, home to about 1,800 people, sits just over the border from East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a catastrophic train derailment and controlled burn of toxic chemicals that sent black smoke billowing over the area for days in early February. Residents here say the wind blew acrid smoke into their homes and coated their cars with a fine ash. State and federal officials gave East Palestine residents the all-clear to return to their homes days later.

But residents in both places are now wondering whether their water is safe to drink and their air safe to breathe. The characteristic floral, fruity odor of butyl acrylate still permeates some homes and wafts up from some of the impacted streams that run through the town. Some say they’re experiencing symptoms – cough, headaches, rashes, watering eyes and dripping noses – that might be related to a chemical exposure.

Government-run community resource centers and health clinics have opened in East Palestine and Darlington to answer residents’ questions and connect them to any care they might need. More than 140 people have come to the clinic in East Palestine since it first opened on February 21, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The Darlington center opened February 28, and more than 200 people visited in its first two days, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Still, some residents are skeptical of the clinics, and the response overall. While many residents who live near the derailment site are following the testing for chemicals in the air and water, what they really want to know is whether they’ve had chemicals from the accident in their bodies, and whether those chemicals have impacted their health.

They’re swapping information online, and seeking out blood tests they hope will identify potential problems. Some are seeking out medical care so there’s a record of their symptoms.

On the advice of a lawyer, Ron Book and his wife came to the East Palestine Health Assessment Clinic on Wednesday afternoon to have their illnesses documented. Book says since the derailment, his nose has been running constantly. He has a sore throat, and he feels stuffy.

“It’s like I have a cold, but I don’t have a cold,” he said.

Book said he saw a doctor who took his vitals and advised him to keep up with the regular blood work that he needs for his ongoing treatment for prostate cancer. He was inside for about 45 minutes, and said the experience was helpful, and about what he expected.

“They can’t heal you,” Book says, “because nobody knows about this chemical.”

At the Darlington center, tables were staffed with experts to answer questions about the chemicals involved in the train derailment, free well and air testing for residents, and potential impacts to area farms.

There were pamphlets on how to manage stress following a disaster and mental health counselors, as well as Zuko, a 3-year-old Great Dane therapy dog.

Residents are also invited to take a nine-page questionnaire to contribute data to a newly launched Assessment of Chemical Exposure, or ACE, study, which is being conducted by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health investigators can use their data to inform a study into the health effects associated with the chemical exposures after the derailment.

People could see a doctor, or get referrals for a primary care physician.

“I think approximately 40% of people sought some sort of clinical evaluation,” said Nate Wardle, who is the special response project manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Wardle said when they opened the clinic, they weren’t sure what to expect – whether residents would be angry that it took more than three weeks to get them these services. So far, he said, people have been grateful and eager to get the help.

Jim Denes, who is 71, came to the health clinic in Darlington Township on Wednesday. He said he lives less than 2 miles from the accident site. On Friday of last week, Denes said he felt awful.

“I was just miserable. I was trying to cough up stuff, I couldn’t,” Denes said. “My eyes were all runny and watery.”

He said he took a Covid-19 test, but it was negative.

Denes said he’s extremely tired and had to drag himself to the clinic, but he’s glad he did. The doctor he saw diagnosed him with bronchitis and prescribed an antibiotic. The clinic was a lot closer than his regular doctor in Ellwood City, and he was able to walk in and be seen without a wait.

Denes said the doctor told him he couldn’t say whether it was related to the chemicals that were spilled or not.

Some residents said they have no interest in going to government-run health clinics.

“I honestly, at this point, don’t know who’s working with who and I really just don’t trust anything that has to do with the government right now,” said Giovanni Irizarry, whose family lives within a mile of the train derailment site.

In the evening hours of February 3, his wife Ashley Irizarry was driving to work when she noticed she could see thick black smoke hanging in the air, even though it was dark. Eventually, she saw the raging fire along the railroad tracks.

That night, Ashley had a red rash on her cheeks, her eyes were burning and red and a metallic chemical smell had burned her nose and throat. On Saturday, Giovanni said, his lips burned like he’d had scalding hot soup. Giovanni’s mother, who was living with them, developed a cough so severe she couldn’t catch her breath. The Irizarrys evacuated on Sunday to Boardman, Ohio, about 15 miles away.

They returned home on Saturday, February 11, in anticipation of school restarting on Monday.

As soon as they got close to town, Giovanni said, “I immediately felt my lips like start that burning sensation.”

He and his mom started coughing. His wife and kids developed debilitating and unrelenting headaches. After the kids came home from school on Monday, both started vomiting.

Ashley says she has taken the family to their primary care doctor, an urgent care and the hospital.

“It was not getting better,” she said.

Medical records reviewed by CNN show Ashley was prescribed a steroid and given a chest X-ray due to “toxic effects of gas exposure.” Her son was also diagnosed with chemical exposure.

When the doctors looked into her nose and throat they told her ” ‘Your mucous membranes are all pale. Like they were burned,’ but they didn’t know what to do at this time,” Ashley said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

On public Facebook groups, residents are sharing names of providers who will order blood testing for chemical exposures, which isn’t something either of the government-run clinics is doing currently. Some have even tried to do their own research to try to identify the medical codes needed to order tests for specific chemicals in the blood from large labs.

Instead of going to the government health clinic, on Wednesday, Ashley went to see their chiropractor, Richard Tsai, who has been ordering certain blood tests for existing patients who think they have having health problems connected to chemical exposures from the derailment.

Tsai’s practice, Blackhawk Chiropractic, is right next door to the Darlington Township community resource center and clinic that was opened by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other state agencies this week.

The tests Tsai orders are general and standard in medical care – a test called a complete blood count, which measures levels of red cells, white cells, and clotting factors in the blood; and a test called a basic metabolic panel, which measures blood sugar, electrolytes, and kidney function. If his patients ask for it, he also orders a more specialized test that measure exposure to the chemical benzene. In the past two days, he estimates about 15 patients have asked him for blood testing.

Tsai, who lives in East Palestine, says he’s been frustrated by the government’s response.

“We shouldn’t be having to do this,” Tsai said, in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

“Why are people having to figure this out on Facebook? These people need to know where to go and what’s available.”

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, pushed back against the idea that the government wasn’t giving people enough information. He said that during the course of the medical assessment at the health clinic, the clinic physician might make recommendations for further testing, but that would be done by the person’s regular doctor.

If people don’t have a doctor that they see regularly, Vanderhoff said they are trying to help residents find one.

Vanderhoff said it would be important for the primary care providers to continue to monitor changes in a patient’s overall health.

“Because when we look at the chemicals involved, especially the primary chemical vinyl chloride, there is simply not a blood test that we can do or a urine test that we can do that would say ‘Aha! You had an exposure,’ ” Vanderhoff said. “That would be great, but that’s just not the case.”

Tsai, who lives in East Palestine, said that he’s legally able to order medical tests, so he does, within limits. “Why wouldn’t you do that?” he said.

Dr. Erin Haynes, the chairperson of the department of epidemiology and environmental health at the University of Kentucky, says she thinks it’s sound for residents to seek out common blood tests.

In an email to CNN, Haynes said in addition to a complete blood count and basic metabolic panel she would add a liver function test, since vinyl chloride, one chemical that was on the train, can damage the liver.

But Haynes says trying to test for specific chemicals may be a step too far.

“Testing for chemical exposure at this point is a difficult,” says Haynes, who has helped impacted communities investigate environmental exposures. “The high levels are now gone, and we aren’t exactly sure what to measure in blood or urine since we don’t know what chemicals formed during the fire. There are suspects, but not clear answers yet.”

Haynes said it would be ideal to collect blood and urine samples now, but store them for later testing, but this would be difficult for a local clinic to do.

Overall, Haynes says the government’s response to chemical spills like this one leaves something to be desired.

“The community is in dire need of an organized and coordinated health monitoring study that includes exposure assessment,” said Haynes, who hopes to bring such a study to the area soon.

Down the road, she says, there’s still a lot to learn about the health impacts of environmental exposures to toxins.

“We also need more research on what these chemicals do and methods for rapid testing,” Haynes said. “Communities with railroad must know what is moving through their community, when and how much. They also must receive training on how to safely respond when a disaster occurs.”

Source link

#Ohio #Pennsylvania #offer #health #services #train #derailment #residents #feel #skeptical #CNN

Recently identified inflammatory disease VEXAS syndrome may be more common than thought, study suggests | CNN



CNN
 — 

David Adams spent half a decade fighting an illness he couldn’t name. He was in and out of the hospital several times per year. His inflamed joints made his hands feel like they had been squeezed into gloves – and he could no longer play his beloved classical and jazz guitars.

He had constant fevers and fatigue. He even developed pain and swelling in his genitalia, which was his first sign that something was really wrong.

“At the turn of the year 2016, I started with some really painful effects in the male anatomy,” said Adams, now 70. “After that, again, a lot of fatigue – my primary care physician at that point had blood tests done, and my white blood cell count was very, very low.”

Next, Adams, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, saw a hematologist, a pulmonologist, a urologist, a rheumatologist and then a dermatologist. Some of them thought he might have cancer.

Adams’ symptoms continued, with even more fatigue, pneumonia and a large rash below his waist. He tried at least a dozen medications, saw about two dozen doctors, and nothing helped.

In 2019, worsening symptoms forced him to retire early from his decades-long career in clinical data systems. But he remained in the dark about what was causing the problems.

Finally, in 2020, scientists at the National Institutes of Health discovered and named a rare genetic disorder: VEXAS syndrome, which wreaks havoc on the body through inflammation and blood problems.

Adams had an appointment with his rheumatologist at the time, and when he walked into the office, he saw that his physician “was giddy like a little kid.”

In his doctor’s hands was a copy of a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine detailing the discovery of VEXAS syndrome.

Adams had his answer.

“For the first time, there was a one-to-one correlation of symptoms,” he said. “It was quite a shock.”

An estimated 1 in about 13,500 people in the United States may have VEXAS syndrome, a new study suggests, which means the mysterious and sometimes deadly inflammatory disorder may be more common than previously thought.

In comparison, the genetic disorder spinal muscular atrophy affects about 1 in 10,000 people and Huntington’s disease occurs in about 1 in every 10,000 to 20,000 people.

Since its discovery, occasional VEXAS cases have been reported in medical research, but the study reveals new estimates of its prevalence.

The research, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, suggests that about 1 in 13,591 people in the US have mutations in the UBA1 gene, which develop later in life and cause VEXAS syndrome.

“This study is demonstrating that there’s likely tens of thousands of patients in the US that have this disease, and the vast majority of them are probably not being recognized because physicians aren’t really considering this as a diagnosis more broadly,” said Dr. David Beck, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Health and a lead author of the study.

VEXAS syndrome is not inherited, so people who have it don’t pass the disease to their children. But the UBA1 gene is on the X chromosome, so the syndrome is an X-linked disease. It predominantly affects men, who carry only one X chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes, so if they have a mutation in a gene on one X chromosome but not the other, they are generally unaffected.

“It’s present in 1 in 4,000 men over the age of 50. So we think it’s a disease that should be thought about in terms of testing for individuals that have the symptoms,” said Beck, who also led the federal research team that identified the shared UBA1 mutation among VEXAS patients in 2020.

“The benefit of VEXAS syndrome is that we have a test. We have a genetic test that can help directly provide the diagnosis,” he said. “It’s just a question of patients who meet the criteria – who are older individuals with systemic inflammation, low blood counts, who really aren’t responding to anything but steroids – then advocating to their doctors to get genetic testing to get a diagnosis.”

Adams, who became a patient of Beck’s, said that finally getting a diagnosis – and understanding the cause of his symptoms – was life-changing.

“It really was incredibly freeing to have the diagnosis,” he said.

“You can’t fight your enemy unless your enemy has a name,” he added. “We finally had something where we could point to and say, ‘OK, we understand what’s going on. This is VEXAS.’ “

For the new study, Beck and his colleagues at the NIH, New York University, Geisinger Research and other institutions analyzed data on 163,096 patients in a health system in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, from January 1996 to January 2022, including electronic health records and blood samples.

Eleven of the patients had a disease-causing UBA1 variant, and a 12th person had a “highly suspicious” variant.

Only three of the 12 are still alive. A five-year survival rate of 63% has been previously reported with VEXAS.

Among the 11 patients in the new study who had pathogenic variants in UBA1, only two were women. Seven had arthritis as a symptom, and four had been diagnosed with rheumatologic diseases, such as psoriasis of the skin or sarcoidosis, which causes swollen lumps in the body. All had anemia or low blood cell counts.

“None had been previously clinically diagnosed with VEXAS syndrome,” Beck said.

The finding “is emphasizing how it’s important to be able to pick these patients out, give them the diagnosis and start the aggressive therapies or aggressive treatments to keep their inflammation in check,” he said.

VEXAS – an acronym for five clinical characteristics of the disease – has no standardized treatment or cure, but Beck said symptoms can be managed with medications like the steroid prednisone or other immunosuppressants.

“But the toxicities of prednisone over years is challenging. There are other anti-inflammatory medications that we use, but they’re only partially effective at the moment,” he said. “One treatment for individuals that we’ve seen that’s very effective is bone marrow transplantation. That comes with its own risks, but that’s just underscoring the severe nature of the disease.”

Although the new study helps provide estimates of the prevalence and symptoms of VEXAS syndrome, the data is not representative of the entire United States, and Beck said that more research needs to be done on a larger, more diverse group of people.

Some men might be hesitant to seek medical care for VEXAS symptoms, but Adams said that doing so could save their life.

“Eventually, it’s going to get so bad that you’ll end up like my first hospitalization, where you’re on death’s door,” Adams said. “You don’t want to be in that situation.”

Adams has been taking prednisone to ease his symptoms, and it’s helped. But because steroid use can have side effects such as cataracts and weight gain, he has been working with his doctors to find other therapies so he can reduce his intake of the medication.

Beck and his colleagues are studying targeted therapies for VEXAS syndrome, as well as conducting stem cell bone marrow transplant trials at the NIH.

“There are many different facets of the disease,” Dr. Bhavisha Patel, a hematologist and researcher in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Hematopoiesis and Bone Marrow Failure Laboratory, said in an NIH news release last month.

“I believe that is what is challenging when we think about treatment, because it’s so heterogeneous,” said Patel, who was not involved in the new study.

“Both at NIH and worldwide, the groups that have dedicated themselves to VEXAS are looking for medical therapies to offer to other patients who don’t qualify for a bone marrow transplant,” she said. “We continue to collaborate on many projects in order to categorize this disease further and ultimately come up with the best treatment options.”

Source link

#identified #inflammatory #disease #VEXAS #syndrome #common #thought #study #suggests #CNN

Study shows convalescent plasma works for immune-compromised Covid-19 patients, but it can be hard to find | CNN



CNN
 — 

Convalescent plasma – a once-celebrated treatment for Covid-19 that has largely fallen out of favor – does work well for people who are immune-compromised, according to a study published Thursday.

The report in the journal JAMA Network Open analyzed the results of nine studies and found that immune-compromised Covid-19 patients were 37% less likely to die if they got convalescent plasma, an antibody-rich blood product from people who’d recovered from the virus.

Although it’s legal to use convalescent plasma to treat Covid patients who are immune-compromised, as inpatients or outpatients, government guidelines are neutral about whether the treatment works, so some hospitals offer it but others do not.

“Our concern is that many patients who need [convalescent plasma] are not getting it,” said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University and a co-author of the new study. “This is really important because these people can be treated, and they could have better outcomes with this material if we can just get the word out.”

He said it’s to everyone’s advantage to treat immune-compromised patients quickly.

Immune-compromised people sometimes have “smoldering Covid” for months because they lack the antibodies to fight it off, which gives the virus plenty of opportunities to mutate in the person’s body.

“These immune-compromised patients are essentially variant factories,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic and another study co-author. “And you do not want a bunch of people running around out there making weird variants.”

There are about 7 million immune-compromised people in the US, and treating them if they contract Covid-19 has proved challenging.

Many of them can’t take the antiviral drug Paxlovid because it interferes with other medicines they take.

Monoclonal antibodies, once popular for prevention and treatment for this group, aren’t used anymore because coronavirus variants have changed over time. One of the advantages of convalescent plasma is that as long as it’s been donated recently, there’s a high likelihood it will have antibodies to currently circulating variants, according to advocates for the treatment.

But the National Institutes of Health’s Covid-19 treatment guidelines say there’s not enough evidence to recommend either for or against the use of convalescent plasma in people with compromised immune systems.

Three times last year – in May, August and December – Casadevall, Joyner and dozens of other doctors from Harvard, Stanford, Mayo, Columbia and other academic medical centers wrote emails to scientists at the National Institutes of Health, sending them research materials and urging them to revise the guidelines. They say they have not received a response.

Joyner said he’s “frustrated” with the NIH’s “bureaucratic rope-a-dope,” calling the agency’s guidelines a “wet blanket” that discourages doctors from trying convalescent plasma on these people.

Some patient advocates say they’re angry.

“This lack of response to the researchers is infuriating,” said Janet Handal, co-founder of the Transplant Recipient and Immunocompromised Patient Advocacy Group.

Several large randomized clinical trials on the general population, including one in India and one in the UK, have found that convalescent plasma did not reduce Covid-19 deaths or prevent severe illness, and the treatment is no longer authorized in the US for people who have healthy immune systems.

The nine studies analyzed in the new report are much smaller and looked only at immune-compromised patients.

Dr. Peter Horby, a professor at the University of Oxford and the co-principal investigator of the large UK study, said that a large randomized clinical trial should be done on immune-compromised patients before clinical practice guidelines for this group are changed.

He said that support for convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19 has been based on “an emotional feeling that something had to be done.”

“We’ve seen time and again that people’s beliefs and emotions about what works can be wildly wrong, and so the best thing to do is to evaluate these things properly in trials,” he said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was great enthusiasm for convalescent plasma as Covid-19 survivors sought to save lives, donating antibodies against the virus to people who were sometimes at death’s door.

In August 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the treatment, but some questioned whether it was politically motivated and whether the data really showed that it worked.

Then, the large clinical trials suggested convalescent plasma didn’t work.

“We didn’t see a benefit,” said Horby, director of Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute.

But there was one exception.

Horby said his study did find “some evidence of some benefit” in Covid-19 patients who had not developed antibodies against the virus. This would most likely include immune-compromised patients because their faulty immune systems don’t always generate antibodies the way they should, even after infection.

When this group of patients received convalescent plasma, Horby said, they had a slightly shortened hospital stay and a slightly lower risk of ending up on a ventilator compared with similar patients who did not receive convalescent plasma.

Joyner and Casadevall, the Mayo and Hopkins doctors, point to that finding – and a similar one in a large trial in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, as well as results of smaller studies – as an indication that convalescent plasma is worth trying in immune-compromised patients.

Immune-compromised patients who catch Covid-19 can get convalescent plasma relatively easily if they’re patients at Hopkins, Mayo or several other medical centers.

But many other people might have a difficult time accessing it.

It took Bernadette Kay of Manhattan Beach, California, months to get it, and she had to be “relentless” and call in the help of several “angels” in New York, Maryland, Minnesota and California to finally make it work.

Kay, 64, who has a compromised immune system because of a drug she takes for rheumatoid arthritis, got Covid-19 in July. She took two monoclonal antibodies, as well as remdesivir and Paxlovid – twice. But she still tested positive on and off for months and had fatigue, congestion and headaches.

“I felt like half a person,” she said. “I was not an able-bodied person. I was disabled because of lack of energy. It feels dark – a heavy feeling in your forehead and your face.”

Kay said she saw several doctors and none of them suggested convalescent plasma. That’s where her first angel came in: her daughter, who had signed her up for the Transplant Recipient and Immunocompromised Patient Advocacy Group.

That group, as well as the CLL Society, an advocacy organization for cancer patients, have been helping immune-compromised people when they get infected with Covid-19, connecting them with experts and offering guidance on how to arrange to have the plasma ordered.

Kay says Handal, the co-founder of the immune-compromised patients’ group, was her second angel, because she pointed her to angels No. 3 and 4: Joyner, the Mayo doctor, and Dr. Shmuel Shoham, an infectious disease expert at Hopkins.

Joyner and Shoham pointed Kay to her fifth angel: Chaim Lebovits, a businessman, leader in the New York’s Hasidic Jewish community and co-founder of the Covid Plasma Initiative.

Lebovits reached out to a hospital and blood bank near Kay that could procure the plasma once a doctor ordered it. Kay then reached out to six local doctors, most of them infectious disease experts, inquiring about convalescent plasma, but she didn’t make any progress.

“I think they thought it was quack medicine,” she said.

By this time, it was November, four months after she initially tested positive for Covid. She sought out a seventh doctor, sending him information from plasma experts, including a slide presentation by Joyner and Casdevall. She said that doctor, after conferring with someone at the blood bank that Libovits had suggested, agreed to order the plasma.

That’s where her sixth angel came in: Robert Simpson, vice president for hospital services at the San Diego Blood Bank, who arranged to have the blood flown in from Stanford University Medical Center.

“Robert watched the flight on Flight Tracker and had a courier waiting to bring it to the hospital,” Kay said, adding that she calls her angels collectively her “circle of love.”

Two to three weeks after her infusion, she began to feel better. She tested negative on January 4 and has continued to feel well and test negative since then.

“My energy level is back to normal. I don’t feel like half a person,” she said.

She said she’ll never know for sure exactly what spurred her recovery, but “I think it was plasma that made the difference, because in six months, nothing else made a difference.”

Kay, who works in health care, said most other people wouldn’t have known how to navigate the system like she did or might have given up in frustration.

“With the help of Janet [Handal] and her team of scientists, I’ve been able to get where I am today,” she said. “But it was not easy. This was driven by my bullheaded advocacy, because that’s who I am. I think I’m a total anomaly. No one has the persistence that I have.”

Joyner said that while he and his colleagues wait for a response from their emails to the NIH, they’ve formed the National Covid-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, and they have a phone meeting every Thursday night to discuss their progress.

“We’ve encountered many roadblocks,” said Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “It’s just not viewed as part of the Covid-19 treatment armamentarium, and it should be.”

Pirofski, Joyner and Casadevall say they receive no financial benefit from convalescent plasma. They think one reason convalescent plasma isn’t more widely used is that there isn’t a pharmaceutical company spending money to advocate for it.

Handal, who runs the Facebook group for people who are immune-compromised, said that after she sent several emails to the NIH, agency scientists wrote back, inviting her and other leaders of her group to a meeting next week.

She plans to tell them that they need to review their Covid-19 plasma guidelines and fund more research on the coronavirus and the immune-compromised, as they have few treatment options and so often isolate at home with their families to avoid the virus.

“It is unconscionable that the NIH has let stand for months its guideline on Covid convalescent plasma, which says there is not enough information to make a recommendation, while we who are immune-compromised see our treatments dwindle,” she said. “The NIH needs to speak to the clinician researchers who are experts, prioritize the immune-compromised and fund the research needed to keep us safe.”

Source link

#Study #shows #convalescent #plasma #works #immunecompromised #Covid19 #patients #hard #find #CNN