COVID-19 current figures
Today's COVID-19 headlines
Coronavirus evolution mapping will unlock treatment options
By analysing virus genomes from over 7,500 people infected with Covid-19, a UCL-led research team has characterised patterns of diversity of SARS-CoV-2 virus genome, offering clues to direct drugs and vaccine targets.
The study, led by the UCL Genetics Institute, identified close to 200 recurrent genetic mutations in the virus, highlighting how it may be adapting and evolving to its human hosts.
Researchers found that a large proportion of the global genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 is found in all hardest-hit countries, suggesting extensive global transmission from early on in the epidemic and the absence of single ‘Patient Zeroes’ in most countries.
The findings, published today in Infection, Genetics and Evolution, also further establish that the virus only emerged recently in late 2019, before quickly spreading across the globe.
New NICE guidance on acute kidney injury
NICE has published a new Covid-19 rapid guideline to help healthcare professionals who are not kidney specialists to prevent, detect and manage acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients in hospital with suspected or confirmed Covid-19.
The guideline highlights that AKI may be common in patients with Covid-19 and can lead to worse outcomes for patients. Maintaining the optimal level of body fluids is critical to prevent and manage AKI, but this can be hard to achieve.
There is also emerging evidence that suggests the coronavirus might directly harm the kidneys. So, it is important that patients are assessed for AKI on admission to hospital or transfer, monitored for AKI throughout their stay and AKI is managed appropriately if it develops.
If body fluid levels are low and fluid needs cannot be met through drinking or via a feeding tube, patients should be given fluid via an intravenous (IV) drip. If AKI is worsening, or has not resolved after 48 hours, patients should be referred to a specialist.
Covid-19: advice on improving infection control in families
Simple measures can help reduce the spread and severity of infection among those living with people who have Covid-19, say experts in The BMJ.
Professor Paul Little at the University of Southampton and colleagues say people caring for household members who are unwell should be encouraged to take measures such as handwashing and cleaning, avoiding sharing rooms and surfaces, managing incoming deliveries, and ventilating rooms to limit transmission.
Evidence suggests that “viral load” - the number of viral particles that start the infection off - is likely to be important for Covid-19, they explain. In general, the higher the viral load the easier it is for the infection to get hold and the more severe the infection is.
But while government policy is aimed at reducing transmission of Covid-19 between family units, less attention has been given to transmission between family members, they write.
Researchers release COVID-19 symptom tracker app
The Covid-19 Symptom Tracker app has been used by more than 2.5 million people in the US and the UK and has generated valuable data about Covid-19 for physicians, scientists, and public officials to better fight the viral outbreak.
"The app collects daily information from individuals in the community about whether they feel well, and if not, their specific symptoms and if they have been tested for Covid-19," said senior author Andrew T. Chan, MD, PhD, Chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Director of Cancer Epidemiology at the MGH Cancer Center.
The app is designed to provide insights on where the Covid-19 hot spots are and new symptoms to look out for, and it may be useful as a planning tool to inform guidelines around self-isolation, identify regions in need of additional ventilators and expanded hospital capacity, and provide real-time data to prepare for future outbreaks.
The Covid Symptom Tracker was launched in the UK on March 24th and became available in the US on March 29th. Since launch, it has been used by more than 3 million people.
Other news roundup
- The International Council of Nurses says at least 90,000 health care workers worldwide are believed to have been infected with Covid-19
- Schools reopen in China's virus epicentre for the first time since the outbreak began
- Germany's top football league will play this month behind closed doors
- Youth unemployment in the UK could rise by 640,000 this year according to the Resolution Foundation think tank.