Hot weather theory falls flat, coronavirus more potent in India post-summer

Agencies
July 5,2020

The deadly coronavirus that entered India while there was still nip in the air has beaten rising mercury, humid conditions, unique Indian genome and has entered monsoon season with more potency as fresh cases are only breaking all records in the country.

India recorded a single-day spike of record 24,850 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking its total tally to 6.73 lakh corona-positive cases.

Top Indian microbiologists were hopeful in March that after the 21-day lockdown, as summer approaches, the rise in temperature would play an important role in preventing the drastic spread of COVID-19 virus in India.

Several virologists hinted that by June this year, the impact of COVID-19 would be less than what it appeared in March-April.

The claims have fallen flat as the virus is mutating fast, becoming more potent than ever.

According to experts, the novel coronavirus is a new virus whose seasonality and response to hot humid weather was never fully understood.

"The theory was based on the fact that high temperatures can kill the virus as in sterilisation techniques used in healthcare. But these are controlled environment conditions. There are many other factors besides temperature, humidity which influence the transmission rate among humans," Dr Anu Gupta, Head, Microbiologist and Infection Control, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, told IANS.

There is no built-up immunity to COVID-19 in humans.

"Also, asymptomatic people might be passing it to many others unknowingly. New viruses tend not to follow the seasonal trend in their first year," Gupta emphasized.

Globally, as several countries are now experiencing hot weather, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record hike in the number of coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 2,12,326 in 24 hours in the highest single-day increase since COVID-19 broke out.

So far over 11 million people worldwide have tested positive for the disease which has led to over 5,25,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US remained the worst-hit country with over 28 lakh cases, followed by Brazil with 15.8 lakh.

According to Sandeep Nayar, Senior Consultant and HOD, Respiratory Medicine, Allergy & Sleep Disorders, BLK Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, whether temperature plays a role in COVID-19 infection is highly debated.

One school of thought said in the tropical regions of South Asia, the virus might not thrive longer.

"On the other hand, another school of thought has found that novel Coronavirus can survive in a hot and humid environment and tropical climate does not make a difference to the virus. According to them, this is what distinguishes the novel coronavirus from other common viruses, which usually wane in hot weather," stressed Nayar.

Not much has been studied in the past and no definite treatment or vaccine is available to date.

"Every day, new properties and manifestation of the disease come up. As of now, the only way to prevent this monster is by taking appropriate precautions. Hand hygiene, social distancing, cough etiquette and face masks definitely reduce spread of COVID-19 infection," Nayar told IANS.

Not just top Indian health experts, even Indian-American scientists had this theory in mind that sunshine and summer may ebb the spread of the coronavirus.

Ravi Godse, Director of Discharge Planning, UPMC Shadyside Pennsylvania in the US told IANS in April: "In the summer, the humidity can go up as well, meaning more water drops in the air. If the air is saturated with water and somebody sneezes virus droplets into such air, it is likely that the droplets will fall to the ground quicker, making them less infectious. So the short answer is yes, summer/sunshine could be bettera.

According to Dr Puneet Khanna, Head of Respiratory Medicine and Pulmonology, Manipal Hospital, Delhi, COVID-19 death rates are not too different in tropical countries but since the disease affected them late it was yet to show its peak in these areas.

"The virus can survive well in hot and humid countries and this is proven now," he stressed.

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Physical stress on the job linked with brain, memory decline in older age: Study

Agencies
July 24,2020

Colorado, Jul 24: A new study has found that physical stress in one's job may be associated with faster brain ageing and poorer memory.

Aga Burzynska, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and her research team connected occupational survey responses with brain-imaging data from 99 cognitively normal older adults, age 60 to 79. They found that those who reported high levels of physical stress in their most recent job had smaller volumes in the hippocampus and performed poorer on memory tasks. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is critical for memory and is affected in both normal ageing and in dementia.

Their findings were published this summer in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience under the research topic 'Work and Brain Health Across the Lifespan.'

"We know that stress can accelerate physical ageing and is the risk factor for many chronic illnesses," Burzynska said. "But this is the first evidence that occupational stress can accelerate brain and cognitive ageing."

She added that it is important to understand how occupational exposures affect the ageing of our brains.

"An average American worker spends more than eight hours at work per weekday, and most people remain in the workforce for over 40 years," Burzynska said. "By pure volume, occupational exposures outweigh the time we spend on leisure social, cognitive and physical activities, which protect our ageing minds and brains."

Physical demands at work

Burzynska explained that the association between "physical stress" and brain/memory were driven by physical demands at work. These included excessive reaching, or lifting boxes onto shelves, not necessarily aerobic activity. This is important because earlier work by Burzynska and her colleagues showed that leisure aerobic exercise is beneficial for brain health and cognition, from children to very old adults. Therefore, the researchers controlled for the effects of leisure physical activity and exercise.

As expected, leisure physical activity was associated with greater hippocampal volume, but the negative association with physical demands at work persisted.

"This finding suggests that physical demands at work may have parallel yet opposing associations with brain health," Burzynska explained. "Most interventions for postponing cognitive decline focus on leisure, not on your job. It's kind of unknown territory, but maybe future research can help us make some tweaks to our work environment for long-term cognitive health."

She added that the results could have important implications for society.

"Caring for people with cognitive impairment is so costly, on economic, emotional and societal levels," Burzynska said. "If we can support brain health earlier, in middle-aged workers, it could have an enormous impact."

The researchers considered and corrected for several other factors that could be related to work environment, memory and hippocampus, such as age, gender, brain size, educational level, job title, years in the occupation and general psychological stress.

One piece of the puzzle

"The research on this topic is so fragmented," Burzynska said. "One previous study linked mid-life managerial experience with greater hippocampus volume in older age. Another showed that taxi drivers had larger hippocampi than a city's bus drivers, presumably due to the need to navigate. In our study, job complexity and psychological stress at work were not related to hippocampal volume and cognition. Clearly, our study is just one piece of the puzzle, and further research is needed."

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data used for the study was collected at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign between 2011 and 2014.

CSU researchers now can collect MRI data with the new 3T scanner at the University's Translational Medicine Institute.

With this new capability, Burzynska, along with Michael Thomas and Lorann Stallones of CSU's Department of Psychology, is launching a new project, "Impact of Occupational Exposures and Hazards on Brain and Cognitive Health Among Aging Agricultural Workers," which will involve collecting MRI brain scans and identifying risk and protective factors that could help the agricultural community age successfully. The project recently obtained funding as an Emerging Issues Short-Term Project from the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU's College of Health and Human Sciences.

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Bengaluru organisation gets US FDA, EU nod for device that can kill COVID-19 virus

News Network
August 2,2020

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Bengaluru, Aug 2: Bengaluru based Centre for Advanced Research and Development (CARD), the research wing of organisation De scalene has come up with a device called "SHYCOCAN" (Scalene Hypercharge Corona Canon) which neutralizes the coronavirus.

Speaking to news agency Dr Rajah Vijay Kumar, Chairman, Organisation De Scalene said that the device will not kill any bacteria or fungus, however, neutralizes the coronavirus particles.

"The device was tested for its safety and efficacy and is soon going to be manufactured and marketed in the US under the Enforcement Discretion policy of USFDA and in Europe as the device is CE compliant and is CE marked," said Kumar.

He also added the device will cover a volume of 10,000 cubic feet.

The device Scalene Hypercharge Corona Canon (SHYCOCAN) is intended to be used in the residential, industrial and commercial environment and is designed for active containment by attenuation of Corona family of viruses. (Laboratories de Especialidades Immunological S.A. de C.V, Virucidal Activity concludes 99.9 per cent virus elimination), Kumar asserted.

"SHYCOCAN operates on regular 110/240V - 50/60 Hz wall socket and is a plug and play device, that delivers the necessary signals to a photon mediated electrons emitters (PMEE), that produces hypercharge high-velocity electrons by photon mediation that interacts with the negative seeking S-protein of Corona family of viruses thus reducing infectivity and prevent air and surface borne transmission of corona family of viruses," said Kumar.

The device does not use any chemicals, or any other consumables and does not produce harmful ozone gas or any other substances and is completely safe for use in any environment, he added.

"The attack mechanism of the Virus starts with the initial attachment of the virion to the host cell, it is initiated by interactions between the S-protein and its receptor on the "negative" cell membrane. The sites of receptor binding domains (RBD) within the S1 region of a coronavirus S-protein vary depending on the virus. 

The S-protein/receptor interaction is the primary determinant for a coronavirus to infect a host species and governs the tissue tropism of the virus. However, the end result is the fusion and release of the viral genome into the cytoplasm," said Kumar.

He continued saying that the counter mechanism by the device SHYCOCAN is that if negative seeking is the guidance mechanism of the S- Protein, attracted by the transmembrane potential of the host cells, then breaking this mechanism would block the Coronavirus infectivity and spread.

"The device has been in use for more than a year at the S-CARD campus, the headquarters of Scalene," said Kumar.

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Commissioner issues apology after BBMP seals doors of 2 flats with metal sheets over covid

News Network
July 24,2020

Bengaluru, Jul 24: The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner on Thursday issued a public apology after "local staff" sealed the doors of two apartments with metal sheets in a building where a positive case of COVID-19 was reported in Dommalur.

Earlier on Thursday, BBMP sealed doors of two flats near Dommalur, in a building wherein a COVID-19 case was reported. A woman with two children, along with an elderly couple stayed in those flats. After the woman tweeted about the incident, BBMP officials removed steel sheets from doors.

Taking the matter into consideration, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad, took to Twitter to express an apology for "over-enthusiasm" of his officials.

He tweeted, "We are committed to address any issues that result in stigma. Apologies for the over enthusiasm of the local staff."

He also said the BBMP is committed to treating all citizens with dignity. "I have ensured removing of these barricades immediately. We are committed to treat all persons with dignity.

The purpose of containment is to protect the infected and to ensure uninfected are safe," he tweeted.

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