covid 19

Snot Fights Covid-19

You won't score many glamor points for using a neti pot, but it could be a worthwhile asset in fighting Covid-19, according to the author's experience and recent research.

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Twice a day, morning and night, I use a neti pot to send a warm saltwater solution coursing through one nostril and out the other to flush out debris and pathogens. I started many years ago because of sinus congestion and infections and it has greatly reduced those problems. Along with vaccination when it became available, it seems to have helped with protecting me from developing Covid-19 symptoms despite being of an age and weight that puts me squarely at risk.

Now that supposition of protection has been backed up with evidence from a solidly designed randomized clinical trial. It found that irrigating your sinuses twice a day with a simple saltwater solution can lead to an 8.5-fold reduction in hospitalization from Covid-19. The study is another example of recent research that points to easy and inexpensive ways to help protect yourself and help control the epidemic.

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Bob Roehr
Bob Roehr is a biomedical journalist based in Washington, DC. Over the last twenty-five years he has written extensively for The BMJ, Scientific American, PNAS, Proto, and myriad other publications. He is primarily interested in HIV, infectious disease, immunology, and how growing knowledge of the microbiome is changing our understanding of health and disease. He is working on a book about the ways the body can at least partially control HIV and how that has influenced (or not) the search for a treatment and cure.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy could treat Long COVID, new study shows

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in the past to help people with traumatic brain injury, stroke and other conditions involving wounds to the brain. Now, researchers at Shamir Medical Center in Tel Aviv are studying how it could treat Long Covid.

Shai Efrati

Long COVID is not a single disease, it is a syndrome or cluster of symptoms that can arise from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, a virus that affects an unusually large number of different tissue types. That's because the ACE2 receptor it uses to enter cells is common throughout the body, and inflammation from the immune response fighting that infection can damage surrounding tissue.

One of the most widely shared groups of symptoms is fatigue and what has come to be called “brain fog,” a difficulty focusing and an amorphous feeling of slowed mental functioning and capacity. Researchers have tied these COVID-related symptoms to tissue damage in specific sections of the brain and actual shrinkage in its size.

When Shai Efrati, medical director of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research in Tel Aviv, first looked at functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) of patients with what is now called long COVID, he saw “micro infarcts along the brain.” It reminded him of similar lesions in other conditions he had treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). “Once we saw that, we said, this is the type of wound we can treat. It doesn't matter if the primary cause is mechanical injury like TBI [traumatic brain injury] or stroke … we know how to oxidize them.”
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Bob Roehr
Bob Roehr is a biomedical journalist based in Washington, DC. Over the last twenty-five years he has written extensively for The BMJ, Scientific American, PNAS, Proto, and myriad other publications. He is primarily interested in HIV, infectious disease, immunology, and how growing knowledge of the microbiome is changing our understanding of health and disease. He is working on a book about the ways the body can at least partially control HIV and how that has influenced (or not) the search for a treatment and cure.
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Did researchers finally find a way to lick COVID?

A professor of medicine at the University of Michigan is researching whether lactoferrin, which is found in dairy products such as ice cream, can help to prevent COVID-19 infections.

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Already vaccinated and want more protection from COVID-19? A protein found in ice cream could help, some research suggests, though there are a bunch of caveats.

The protein, called lactoferrin, is found in the milk of mammals and thus in dairy products, including ice cream. It has astounding antiviral properties that have been taken for granted and remain largely unexplored because it is a natural product, meaning that it cannot be patented and exploited by pharmaceutical companies.

Still, a few researchers in Europe and elsewhere have sought to better understand the compound.

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Bob Roehr
Bob Roehr is a biomedical journalist based in Washington, DC. Over the last twenty-five years he has written extensively for The BMJ, Scientific American, PNAS, Proto, and myriad other publications. He is primarily interested in HIV, infectious disease, immunology, and how growing knowledge of the microbiome is changing our understanding of health and disease. He is working on a book about the ways the body can at least partially control HIV and how that has influenced (or not) the search for a treatment and cure.
Smartwatches can track COVID-19 symptoms, study finds

University of Michigan researchers found that new signals embedded in heart rate indicated when individuals were infected with COVID-19 and how ill they became.

If a COVID-19 infection develops, a wearable device may eventually be able to clue you in. A study at the University of Michigan found that a smartwatch can monitor how symptoms progress.

The study evaluated the effects of COVID-19 with various factors derived from heart-rate data. This method also could be employed to detect other diseases, such as influenza and the common cold, at home or when medical resources are limited, such as during a pandemic or in developing countries.

Tracking students and medical interns across the country, the University of Michigan researchers found that new signals embedded in heart rate indicated when individuals were infected with COVID-19 and how ill they became.

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Susan Kreimer
Susan Kreimer is a New York-based freelance journalist who has followed the landscape of health care since the late 1990s, initially as a staff reporter for major daily newspapers. She writes about breakthrough studies, personal health, and the business of clinical practice. Raised in the Chicago area, she holds a B.A. in Journalism/Mass Communication and French from the University of Iowa and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Scientists search for a universal coronavirus vaccine

Stephen Zeichner, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Virginia Medical Center, has made progress with an early stage universal coronavirus vaccine.

Photo credit: Sanjay Suchak, University of Virginia Communications

The Covid-19 pandemic had barely begun when VBI Vaccines, a biopharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, initiated their search for a universal coronavirus vaccine.

It was March 2020, and while most pharmaceutical companies were scrambling to initiate vaccine programs which specifically targeted the SARS-CoV-2 virus, VBI’s executives were already keen to look at the broader picture.

Having observed the SARS and MERS coronavirus outbreaks over the last two decades, Jeff Baxter, CEO of VBI Vaccines, was aware that SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be the last coronavirus to move from an animal host into humans. “It's absolutely apparent that the future is to create a vaccine which gives more broad protection against not only pre-existing coronaviruses, but those that will potentially make the leap into humans in future,” says Baxter.

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David Cox
David Cox is a science and health writer based in the UK. He has a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Cambridge and has written for newspapers and broadcasters worldwide including BBC News, New York Times, and The Guardian. You can follow him on Twitter @DrDavidACox.
Headshot of Gigi Gronvall with gray background
"Making Sense of Science" is a monthly podcast that features interviews with leading medical and scientific experts about the latest developments and the big ethical and societal questions they raise. This episode is hosted by science and biotech journalist Emily Mullin, summer editor of the award-winning science outlet Leaps.org.
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Emily Mullin
Emily Mullin is a science and biotech journalist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine.
The Women of RNA: Two Award-Winners Share Why They Spent Their Careers Studying DNA's Lesser-Known Cousin

When Lynne Maquat, who leads the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester, became interested in the ribonucleic acid molecule in the 1970s, she was definitely in the minority. The same was true for Joan Steitz, now professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University, who began to study RNA a decade earlier in the 1960s.

"My first RNA experiment was a failure, because we didn't understand how things worked," Steitz recalls. In her first undergraduate experiment, she unwittingly used a lab preparation that destroyed the RNA. "Unknowingly, our preparation contained enzymes that degraded our RNA."

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Lina Zeldovich
Lina Zeldovich has written about science, medicine and technology for Scientific American, Reader’s Digest, Mosaic Science and other publications. She’s an alumna of Columbia University School of Journalism and the author of the upcoming book, The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth, from Chicago University Press. You can find her on http://linazeldovich.com/ and @linazeldovich.
New Podcast: Jessica Malaty Rivera Talks Vaccine Hesitancy
Virus image by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

"Making Sense of Science" is a monthly podcast that features interviews with leading medical and scientific experts about the latest developments and the big ethical and societal questions they raise. This episode is hosted by science and biotech journalist Emily Mullin, summer editor of the award-winning science outlet Leaps.org.
Keep Reading Keep Reading
Emily Mullin
Emily Mullin is a science and biotech journalist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine.