Higher blood sugar linked to COVID-19 death risk; The increase in overdose deaths in the US could be pandemic

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some of the latest scientific studies on the new coronavirus and attempts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

A woman applied a gauze pad to her finger after a blood sugar test at the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Virginia, USA, July 21, 2017. Photo taken July 21, 2017. REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

High blood sugar linked to COVID-19 risk in non-diabetics

According to a new study of 11,000 COVID-19 patients in Spain, high blood sugar can predict a difficult course for COVID-19 patients seeking hospital care, even if they don’t have diabetes. No one was seriously ill when they got to the hospital. But researchers found that those who arrived with above-average blood sugar were more likely to die there – whether or not they were diabetic. In total, 20% of patients died on hospital admission, including 16% of those with a blood sugar level of less than 140 milligrams per deciliter on admission, 34% of those with a level of 140 to 180 mg / dL, and 41% of patients with a blood sugar level greater than 180 mg / dl. mg / dL. (A level of 200 mg / dL or higher indicates diabetes.) Taking into account age and medical conditions, patients with the highest concentrations were 50% more likely to die in hospital than those with the lowest concentrations. People with elevated blood sugar were also at higher risk of needing intensive care and mechanical breathing assistance. In a report published Tuesday in Annals of Medicine, the researchers say rapid blood sugar monitoring should be mandatory when treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19, regardless of whether they have diabetes.


Pandemic could lead to an increase in overdose deaths in the US.

The COVID-19 pandemic could lead to an increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States, researchers say. Between March and August, the number of overdose-related cardiac arrests peaked at more than double the average in the previous two years, and remained 48.5% higher at the end of the study period, they reported Thursday in JAMA Psychiatry. The data comes from the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS), a registry of more than 10,000 EMS agencies in 47 states. The rising trend in cardiac arrests corresponded to a sharp decline in people’s mobility, leading the researchers to suggest that the increased social isolation during the pandemic may have contributed to the conditions for fatal overdoses. There are strategies that can help reduce the mortality associated with drug overdose, even during the pandemic, study co-author Joseph Friedman of the University of California, Los Angeles told Reuters. “Removing logistical and financial barriers to access to drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine is especially important,” he said. “Allowing pharmacies to dispense methadone and providing emergency funds to make these drugs affordable can make a big difference.”


Not yet a good answer for disinfecting masks for reuse

No single method of decontaminating health workers’ personal protective equipment (PPE) for reuse stands out the best, according to a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Infection Control, and reuse is not recommended if it can be avoided. Researchers analyzed 40 studies testing different methods of sterilizing N95 masks and advanced filters. They include steam, hydrogen peroxide, ultraviolet light, microwave ovens and electric stoves. Disinfectants such as bleach, soap and water, and alcohol were also tested. The outcomes differed per mask model, manufacturer and sterilization or disinfection process. In addition, most of the methods appeared to result in at least some structural damage or weakening of the masks’ filtering power, said study co-author Vanessa de Brito Poveda of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. In addition to disinfection or sterilization processes, health systems that reuse masks must consider the need for traceability, if the same mask can be shared by different professionals; controlling the number of re-uses of each mask; Train personnel to inspect the integrity and functionality of the mask after routine wear and tear, and cleaning methods to remove organic matter and soil (such as residual cosmetics). “The scientific evidence available so far does not support any process as safe,” said Brito Poveda, although she believes automated methods are safer than manual methods.


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Reporting by Nancy Lapid and David Douglas; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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