loader image
Disease and conditions A-Z

A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections

by R.j. Rico, Menelaos Hadjicostis and Lisa Marie Pane

A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
Residents line up to get tested at a coronavirus testing center set up outside a sports facility in Beijing, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. China reported several dozen more coronavirus infections Tuesday as it increased testing and lockdown measures in parts of the capital to control what appeared to be its largest outbreak in more than two months. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

As nations grapple with new outbreaks and spiking death tolls from the coronavirus, a commonly available drug appeared Tuesday to offer hope that the most seriously ill could have a better chance of survival.

The pandemic has forced countries to impose lockdowns and tough restrictions on daily life and travel, but infections have surged as they eased these rules and reopened their economies. With no vaccine available and much still unknown about the virus, researchers in England announced the first drug shown to save lives.

The drug, called dexamethasone, reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen, researchers in England said. It did not appear to help less ill patients.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the drug was the “biggest breakthrough yet” in treating the coronavirus, and top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called it “a significant improvement in the available therapeutic options that we have.”

Britain is making dexamethasone available to patients on the country’s National Health Service. The U.K. Department of Health said the drug had been approved to treat all hospitalized COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, effective immediately. It said the U.K. had stockpiled enough to treat 200,000 patients.

A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
Passengers wearing personal protective face masks leave the United Airline ticket counter after checking in Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla. Some major US airlines, including United, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines, pledged to roll out new policies requiring masks for passengers to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

“It’s on almost every pharmacy shelf in every hospital, it’s available throughout the world, and it’s very cheap,” said Peter Horby of Oxford University, one of the leaders of the trial that randomly assigned 2,104 patients to get the drug and compared them with 4,321 patients getting only usual care.

Since the virus first emerged in China late last year and spread around the globe, there have been more than 8 million confirmed cases and more than 435,000 deaths.

The U.S. death toll has reached 116,526, according to Johns Hopkins University. That surpasses the number of Americans who died in World War I, when 116,516 were killed—although both death tolls are far from precise. The United States has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover but the more difficult cases last for weeks and sometimes take a bad turn even after symptoms seem to ease.

A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
Residents wearing masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus ride past a neighborhood under lockdown in Beijing Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Chinese authorities locked down a third neighborhood in Beijing on Tuesday as they rushed to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 100 people in a country that appeared to have largely contained the virus. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Countries that appeared to have largely contained the virus are seeing new outbreaks.

In China, authorities on Tuesday locked down a third neighborhood in Beijing to contain an outbreak that has infected more than 100 people. Most of the cases have been linked to the capital’s Xinfadi wholesale food market, and people lined up for massive testing of anyone who had visited it in the past two weeks or come in contact with them. About 9,000 workers at the market were tested already.

New Zealand, which hadn’t seen a new case in three weeks, was investigating a case in which two women who flew in from London to see a dying parent were allowed to leave quarantine and drive halfway across the country before they were tested and found to be positive.

The re-emergence of the virus in the country once praised for how it handled infections raised the specter that international air travel could trigger a fresh wave of contagion just as countries are reopening airports to stimulate tourism.

A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk in the main Kizilay Square, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Turkey has made the wearing of face masks mandatory in five more provinces, following an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted early Tuesday that the wearing of masks is now compulsory in 42 of Turkey’s 81 provinces.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Canada and the U..S agreed to extend to July 21 an agreement to keep their border closed to nonessential travel. The restrictions were announced in March and have been extended repeatedly, with many Canadians fearing cases arriving from the U.S.

“This is a decision that will protect people on both sides of the border as we continue to fight COVID-19,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

The U.S. car industry was among the first to reopen following a lockdown in mid-March. Yet almost immediately after reopening factories and restarting production on a limited basis, the virus began to spread again—even with significant safety precautions in place. Similar spikes have been seen after the reopening of hair salons, day-care centers and bars and restaurants.

Hula Hut, a large Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, Texas, that was closed for weeks this spring, reopened earlier this month but had to shut down again for six days after two employees tested positive for COVID-19 in quick succession.

A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
A health worker in protective suit offers water to a person waiting for nasal swab test for COVID-19 at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. India is the fourth hardest-hit country by the COVID-19 pandemic in the world after the U.S., Russia and Brazil. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

“It’s difficult navigating the guidelines—the city, the state, the CDC all have them—but I think we did the right thing,” said Elias Chocalas, the restaurant’s general manager.

Texas doesn’t require restaurants to close after a positive test, but Chocalas said the temporary shutdown allowed Hula Hut to be sanitized multiple times and gave his employees time to get tested and learn their results.

“We follow all the steps and then to see that someone has gotten it is just disheartening,” Chocalas said. “It just brought the realization that this is going to happen regardless of how safe we are.”

Florida’s confirmed cases rose sharply again Tuesday, weeks after the state began reopening its economy, setting a daily record with almost 2,800 new cases reported.

The number of infected patients in Tennessee hospitals has reached its highest level at more than 400, Vanderbilt University researchers reported. The surge in new cases and hospitalizations have led Memphis and Nashville to delay plans to reopen more businesses and increase capacities for restaurants and retail stores.

  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    Visitors ride the “Bandit”roller coaster at the newly-opened Yomiuriland amusement park in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The park has been closed since the end of March as a part of the precautions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    A family enters the newly-reopened Yomiuriland amusement park in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The park has been closed since the end of March as a part of the precautions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    Women walk on the beach at Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday June 16, 2020. The country now has more than a quarter of the coronavirus cases on the 54-nation African continent with more than 73,000 cases after new, record-high infections were registered in South Africa over the weekend. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    A couple adjust sunshades at the beach of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Borders opened up across Europe on Monday after three months of coronavirus closures that began chaotically in March. But many restrictions persist, it’s unclear how keen Europeans will be to travel this summer and the continent is still closed to Americans, Asians and other international tourists. (AP Photo/Joan Mateu)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    A primary school student gestures for a hug from a distance to her teacher, as she collects her personal belongings, as the school year ends, in a school in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    Employees wear masks as they disinfect to avoid contamination with the COVID-19 virus at the Mohammed V airport in Casablanca, Morocco, Tuesday June 16, 2020. The ONDA (National Office of the Airport) in Casablanca, has taken various measures to implement social distancing against COVID-19 while awaiting a reopening expected on July 10 in Morocco.(AP Photo / Abdeljalil Bounhar)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    Members of the N.H. Senate stand for the Pledge of Allegience as they gather for a session on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at the State House in Concord, New Hampshire. The 24 N.H. Senators met in the N.H. House Chamber while adhering to social distancing rules due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    Bayern’s Joshua Zirkzee, center, wears a mask against the spread of the new coronavirus arrives for the German Bundesliga soccer match between Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich in Bremen, Germany, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    An employee measures the temperature of another in Yoyo Land, an indoor amusement center in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Daily life in the capital resumes to normal as the government continues to ease restrictions related to running business and activities that were imposed weeks ago to combat the spread of COVID-19. Thailand reported no local transmissions of the coronavirus in the past 3 weeks. (AP Photo/ Gemunu Amarasinghe)
  • A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections
    Two maskless Turkish people ride scooters in a public garden, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Turkey has made the wearing of face masks mandatory in five more provinces, following an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted early Tuesday that the wearing of masks is now compulsory in 42 of Turkey’s 81 provinces.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Nevada reported 379 new cases statewide, its single largest daily increase since May 22. State health officials said the increase can be partially attributed to delayed reporting from the weekend but is also part of an upward trend of new cases in the last three weeks. Nevada’s casinos reopened almost two weeks ago after being closed for 11 weeks.

Elsewhere around the world:

— New, record-high infections were registered in South Africa over the weekend, two weeks after the loosening of restrictions that opened businesses and houses of worship. The country now has more than a quarter of the cases on the 54-nation African continent with more than 73,000.

— Egypt’s health ministry reported 97 deaths Monday, the country’s highest for a single day. Egypt, which has resisted a full lockdown, has over 46,000 COVID-19 infections and 1,672 deaths.

— Israel’s steady raise in infections since restrictions were eased last month has increased fears of what a top Health Ministry official said looked like the “beginning of a wave,” with 200 new cases daily. That’s a tenfold increase from a few weeks ago, and authorities warned of possibly reinstating strict lockdown measures.

— Turkey, which has seen an uptick in cases since it eased restrictions in early June, made the wearing of face masks mandatory in five more provinces Tuesday.


Follow the latest news on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak


© 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
A drug offers hope amid spikes in coronavirus infections (2020, June 16)
retrieved 16 June 2020
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-06-drug-virus-cases-africa-asia.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.




Source link

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button