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COVID-19 transmission higher in households than in workplaces, schools or community

New research out of York University has found the transmission of COVID-19 is much higher in households than in workplaces, schools or the community as the potential for prolonged contact with infected people is greater in the home.

The researchers looked at testing rates and turnaround times, , coverage and , waning immunity, and public health measures under various lockdown, reopening and resurgence scenarios—from March to December 2020—to find the best global vaccination strategies to control COVID-19 outbreaks.

They found testing helped mitigate transmission between members of the same household if results were available within the first 24 hours. PCR testing was widely available during this time, which is more sensitive than the current rapid tests, although the researchers believe even this testing is likely to help to curb transmission between family members. Ideally, public health resources would be available for PCR testing.

“Although vaccination helped decrease virus transmission, testing remains an important tool for virus containment as it allows people to isolate sooner,” says York University Professor Huaiping Zhu of York University’s Canadian Center for Disease Modeling in the Faculty of Science and the corresponding author.

The study also looked at what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated based on the level of immunity to the virus in the community. To control COVID-19 infections when there is waning immunity, 90% of the public needs to be vaccinated. If waning immunity isn’t an issue, only 60% of the population needs to be vaccinated with a vaccine that is at least 70% effective.

Waning immunity could be an issue now heading into winter as recent uptake for booster shots, particularly the bivalent, has been low.

The research team, including lead authors York Postdoctoral Fellows Elena Aruffo and Pei Yuan, found short immunity times coupled with an early relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as mask wearing and isolation, are key drivers for disease resurgence.

“High vaccination rates help delay a re-emergence of infection and give public health time to implement new measures. However, even with widespread vaccination, if we are in a high transmission phase of the virus, either most symptomatic people need to be tested or a short testing turnaround time is needed,” says Zhu, director of the NSERC-PHAC “One Health Modeling Network” OMNI.

Vaccine efficacy and distribution, waning immunity and all play a role in the degree of virus transmission.

“How quickly immunity wanes after vaccination could dictate how the vaccine is best rolled out,” says Zhu. “If immunity lasts a long time, then a fast distribution of vaccine is most beneficial, whereas if the immunity time is short, a slower distribution is more effective as everyone won’t become susceptible at the same time.”

The research team’s model is based on Toronto case data, but can be applied to any region.

The paper, “Community structured model for strategies to control COVID19 spread: a mathematical study,” is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information:
Elena Aruffo et al, Community structured model for vaccine strategies to control COVID19 spread: A mathematical study, PLOS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258648

Journal information:

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Infectious Diseases Society of America: Vaccination program yielded large declines in varicella incidence

Varicella vaccination resulted in a 99 percent reduction in the incidence of varicella among persons aged younger than 20 years, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDWeek), held from Oct. 19 to 23 in Washington, D.C.

Mona Marin, M.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed overall and age-specific trends for rates of varicella incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths from the prevaccine period (1990 to 1994) through 2019. Trends were presented for persons aged younger than 50 years, which captures most of the burden of varicella and avoids misclassified herpes zoster in .

The researchers observed dramatic declines in varicella incidence, hospitalization, and within 10 years of the one-dose program compared with prevaccine (71 to 90 percent). Limited transmission continued in the school settings, informing change to a two-dose vaccination policy. Declines reached >97, 94, and 97 percent for incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths, respectively, by 2019. Declines were greatest among persons aged younger than 20 years, born during the vaccination program, who had reductions of 99, 97, and >99 percent in incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths, respectively. Further reductions in the number, size, and duration of outbreaks were seen with the two-dose program versus the one-dose program. The proportion of outbreaks with

“This degree of control of the disease in the United States was unimaginable just 25 years ago, but picture that on a global scale,” Marin said in a statement. “As science continues to advance, the chickenpox vaccine is a testament to the transformative power of public health.”

Copyright © 2022 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Alcoholic pancreatitis patients with continued alcohol intake may finally have therapeutic options

Many alcoholic pancreatitis patients continued drinking during COVID-19. University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers are studying the effects of continued alcohol intake and seeking better treatment for alcohol-associated pancreatic disease.

The researchers are looking for solutions to the continued effects of alcohol use, its harmful impact, and treatment. Understanding the mechanisms of alcohol abuse has gained importance, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher alcohol consumption led to an increased burden of pancreatic diseases in society.

In a study titled “Urolithin A attenuates severity of associated with continued alcohol intake by inhibiting PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling,” published in the American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, researchers examine the short- and long-term consequences of this increased alcohol effect on pancreatic diseases and work together on innovative approaches to better understand how to treat pancreatitis patients with continued alcohol intake.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas often associated with long-term alcohol consumption, a potential risk factor for the induction of acute pancreatitis. Recurrent attacks of acute pancreatitis results in chronic pancreatitis. Each year, about 275,000 hospital stays for acute pancreatitis and 86,000 hospital stays for chronic pancreatitis occur across the U.S., according to the statistics released by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Acute pancreatitis appears suddenly and can typically be resolved in days with treatment in most patients. However, acute pancreatitis can also cause severe life-threatening conditions in some cases. Recurrent episodes of acute pancreatitis instigate irreversible damage to the pancreas, causing weight loss, pain, diabetes, and even pancreatic cancer.

Alcohol use spiked during COVID-19

Total alcohol sales almost tripled in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequently increasing the number of patients diagnosed with alcohol-associated pancreatitis. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with 40–70% of pancreatitis cases. Without moderation, alcohol use harshly impacts both the liver and pancreas, causing fat accumulation and inflammation, disrupting normal function.

With repeated episodes of binge drinking (four to five drinks in two hours), the pancreas eventually builds up scar tissues with persistent inflammation, weakening its endocrine and exocrine functions needed to digest food and regulate blood sugar levels. This chronic insult to the organ can cause excruciating pain, malnutrition, diabetes, and death.

“We are developing novel models to study and to prevent inflammation or reverse the pancreatic damage caused due to excess alcohol intake,” said lead author Nagaraj Nagathihalli, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery in the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology.

Continued alcohol use perpetuates pancreatic injury in mice models

Accumulating scientific evidence suggests that continued alcohol consumption with established alcoholic pancreatitis instigates irreversible pancreatic damage due to recurrent episodes of by fostering a continuous fibro-inflammatory microenvironment within the pancreas.

“The involved in the pathophysiology of alcoholic pancreatitis with continuous alcohol intake remains ambiguous; and preventative care strategies are restricted due to limited experimental animal models that successfully recapitulate human pancreatitis arising from prolonged or continued alcohol use after established pancreatic injury,” said Dr. Nagathihalli.

“In this study, using an established alcoholic pancreatitis mice model, we have addressed two of the major unanswered questions with regards to the pathogenesis of pancreatitis. We’ve characterized the pancreas-specific signaling pathways in this process and determined if utilizing novel therapeutic agents can attenuate the severity of alcoholic pancreatitis progression, despite continued alcohol triggers” said first author of the study Siddharth Mehra, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Miller School’s Department of Surgery.

Preventing alcohol-associated chronic pancreatitis may benefit patients with difficulty in alcohol abstinence

The microbiome has been implicated in gastrointestinal inflammation as a critical mediator of overall gut health. Urolithin A is a natural compound synthesized by gut bacteria from ingested ellagitannins, a class of hydrolyzable tannins found mainly in pomegranate, berries, and nuts. Previous work from the group has shown that Urolithin A is a potent anti-inflammatory agent in several pre-clinical disease models and exhibits anti-tumor activity in gastrointestinal cancers.

“Our studies have demonstrated that Urolithin A is well tolerated and does not elicit any adverse toxic effects at clinically relevant doses in mice. However, despite the promising effect of Urolithin A in several malignancies and inflammatory disorders, the benefit of this microbial metabolite in the prevention of pancreatitis had not been investigated,” says Dr. Nagathihalli. The FDA recognizes Urolithin A as a “safe dietary supplement.”

“In , we have shown that Urolithin A can help improve the effectiveness of treating alcoholic pancreatitis despite continued intake,” said Dr. Mehra.

More information:
Siddharth Mehra et al, Urolithin A attenuates severity of chronic pancreatitis associated with continued alcohol intake by inhibiting PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling, American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology (2022). DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00159.2022

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Uganda to deploy Ebola vaccine in 2 weeks, says WHO official

Experimental Ebola vaccines will be deployed in Uganda in about “two weeks,” a World Health Organization official said Wednesday, as the East African country carried out tough preventive measures that include a lockdown in the Ebola-hit areas.

Potentially hundreds of thousands of trial will buttress a response effort that still must focus on tracing Ebola contacts and , Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the WHO representative in Uganda, told The Associated Press.

“We are getting closer and closer to deploying vaccines,” he said. “This is a study. This is just another tool that we are going to try.”

Vaccines developed by the U.S.-based Sabin Vaccine Institute and Oxford University “are ready to be shipped” to Uganda, which is finalizing protocols for the study before the National Drug Authority issues import permits, he said.

The Sudan strain of Ebola, for which there’s no proven vaccine, is circulating in Uganda. Ebola, which manifests as a , has infected at least 60 people and killed 24. The official figures don’t include people who likely died of Ebola before the was confirmed. Victims include five health workers.

The Oxford vaccine is being produced by the Serum Institute of India, which has indicated it can eventually make hundreds of thousands of doses available, according to Yonas, who is closely following Uganda’s Ebola response.

Uganda declared an outbreak of Ebola on Sept. 20, several days after the contagious disease began spreading in a rural farming community. A lockdown and nighttime curfew measures are now in place in the outbreak’s epicenter, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) west of the capital, Kampala.

Ebola is spread by contact with bodily fluids of an infected person or contaminated materials. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.

Scientists don’t know the natural reservoir of the virus, but they suspect the first victim in an Ebola outbreak gets infected through contact with an infected animal or eating its raw meat. Ugandan officials are still investing the source of the current outbreak.

Uganda has had multiple Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2000 that killed more than 200 people. The 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people, the disease’s largest death toll ever.

Ebola was discovered in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in South Sudan and Congo, where it occurred in a village near the Ebola River after which the disease is named.

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