In our eleventh installment of Charles Corfield’s pandemic blog, he discusses the spike in cases for COVID-19 and what we might want to consider for the Fall to help the spread. Please check back every Monday as Charles shares his thoughts on what is trending with COVID-19.
While plenty of pre-prints of research papers have continued to hit the digital presses, I have not seen anything groundbreaking. There are more papers reporting a positive association between vitamin D status and resilience to COVID-19. There have been a few papers finding that there are more people who have T-cell immunity than those with detectable antibodies. If this finding is maintained, it calls into question the value of antibody tests, since most people who have been exposed will be T-cell positive and antibody negative.
There are also several clinical trials underway; many of which are looking at whether existing (approved) drugs can be repurposed for treating covid-19. However, it takes time to run a rigorous clinical trial, which means we are waiting for them to be completed. As of this morning, the clinicaltrials.gov site reports 198 trials have completed; but only a handful are pharmacological interventions and are for “the usual suspects”, meaning drugs that have already underwhelmed. It is a similar story with vaccines, there is a goodly number making its way through the research pipeline, but these, too, take time to vet for (a) effectiveness and (b) whether they have unexpected snags/drawbacks. For example, it would not be good if a vaccine conferred immunity to sars-cov-2, but at the price of a nasty autoimmune condition.
Speaking of vaccines, a population study across the U.S. found that COVID-19 mortality declined by 28% for each 10% increase in flu vaccination coverage (using data up to June 10th). The potential call to action is that in the scenario where we go into Fall and Winter with COVID-19 still making the rounds, then everyone with elderly parents might consider becoming a nagatron to: (a) get their flu shots; (b) take vitamin D (if they are not already doing so). I would like to see our public health folks weigh in on these two easy interventions; because if they have value, it would be good to get the message out.