COVID Will Be Mild As Common Cold In Years To Come, Scientists Think

A model of SARS-CoV-2 infection suggests the virus will become as mild as a common cold across the years.

A model of SARS-CoV-2 infection suggests the virus will become as mild as a common cold across the years.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on people’s physical and mental health, the economy, children’s education, and much more across the world, but would be there an ‘endgame’ for the virus.

According to a model developed by scientists from Emory and Penn State, the virus will become endemic as seen in other known human coronaviruses and so it will become a very low-level threat, like a common cold.

The model uses SARS-CoV-1 and the four coronaviruses responsible for more than a quarter of all common colds.

SARS-CoV-2 is very similar to the SARS-CoV-1 virus but it has ten times the binding affinity to human cell receptors compared to SARS-CoV-1.

Dr Jennie Lavine, the study’s first author, noted that the phrase ‘herd immunity’ for those viruses is partial and somewhat misleading.

The four common cold coronaviruses have long been known since most people are infected during their childhood.

Infection in general makes children develop natural immunity which protect them against severe illnesses in later life but it doesn’t mean that it can stop the recurrence of reinfection.

Dr Lavine said:

“Reinfection is possible within one year, but even if it occurs, symptoms are mild and the virus is cleared from the body more quickly.

It highlights the need to tease apart the components of immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

How long does immunity that prevents pathology last, and how long does immunity that prevents transmission last?

Those durations may be very different.”

Recent papers on lasting immunity and antibodies against COVID-19 in recovered patients are continuously providing reliable data, however, the part regarding protection or blocking of transmission remains a puzzle.

Dr Lavine said:

“Overall, we’re asking: how does SARS-CoV-2 compare to other viruses such as seasonal influenza or respiratory syncytial virus.

This model assumes immunity to SARS-CoV-2 works similar to other human coronaviruses.

We don’t really know what it would be like if someone got one of the other coronaviruses for the first time as an adult, rather than as a child.”

Once COVID-19 becomes endemic, the model foresees the infection fatality ratio (percentage of deaths amongst infected patients) could drop below seasonal influenza (a rate of 0.1%).

Professor Ottar Bjornstad, study co-author, said:

“We are in uncharted territory, but a key take-home message from the study is that immunological indicators suggest that fatality rates and the critical need for broad-scale vaccination may wane in the near term, so maximum effort should be on weathering this virgin pandemic en route to endemicity.”

The authors hint that a COVID-19 vaccination can save hundreds of thousands people during the first or second year of vaccine rollout.

However, ongoing mass vaccination may be unnecessary when SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic, except for those who are in vulnerable groups.

They add that SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in infants and young children appear to be mild with low mortality.

If children experience severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, like MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus), then routine vaccinations will become critical.

The study was published in Science (Lavine et al., 2020).

The Supplement Linked To Surviving COVID-19

COVID-19 patients who have higher levels of this nutrient in their blood are more likely to recover from the disease.

COVID-19 patients who have higher levels of this nutrient in their blood are more likely to recover from the disease.

Scientists have published the first direct evidence that suggests higher omega-3 fatty acid levels can lower the risk of dying from the coronavirus infection.

Previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that could lower the severity and mortality in COVID-19 patients but up to now there wasn’t enough supporting evidence.

The present study examined 100 hospitalized patients with Covid-19 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

They analysed those patients blood samples for their omega-3 index (O3I), which is a measure of EPA and DHA levels in red blood cells.

They found that the chance of surviving was nearly four times greater for those with the highest omega-3 index compared with those with the lowest.

The patients were divided into four quartiles based on their omega-3 index, ensuring each quartile contained 25 percent of participants.

The top quartile group consisted of patients with an O3I greater than 5.7 percent and these subjects had a 75 percent reduced risk of death from coronavirus disease compared with those in the 3 lower quartiles.

Dr Arash Asher, the study’s first author, said:

“While not meeting standard statistical significance thresholds, this pilot study—along with multiple lines of evidence regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA and DHA—strongly suggests that these nutritionally available marine fatty acids may help reduce risk for adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients.

Larger studies are clearly needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

Professor Clemens von Schacky, co-developer of the Omega-3 Index, said:

“Asher et al have demonstrated that a low Omega-3 Index might be a powerful predictor for death from COVID-19.

Although encouraging, their findings clearly need to be replicated.”

Clinical studies show that 3 grams a day of EPA and DHA supplementation for 10 weeks can lower levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines.

Cytokines are messengers in the immune system that regulate the activity of white blood cells.

Dr James H O’Keefe, commenting on the study, said:

“An excessive inflammatory response, referred to as a ‘cytokine storm,’ is a fundamental mediator of severe COVID-19 illness.

Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) have potent anti-inflammatory activities, and this pilot study provides suggestive evidence that these fatty acids may dampen COVID-19’s cytokine storm.”

A diet high in oily fish containing EPA and DHA such as mackerel, salmon, herring, trout, albacore tuna, and sardines can be the best way to obtain omega-3.

The study was published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (Asher et al., 2020).

This Is What Makes People Follow COVID Rules

People find it very hard to avoid doing the same thing as those closest to them.

People find it very hard to avoid doing the same thing as those closest to them.

People are more likely to follow COVID-19 restrictions when their friends and family do, new research finds.

Social influence was a more powerful motivator than whether or not people agreed with the rules.

The findings underline the tremendous power of social influence on people’s behaviour.

The classic studies on conformity were done 70 years ago and they still have the power to surprise.

People find it very hard to avoid doing the same thing as those closest to them — it makes them anxious, self-conscious and fearful of disapproval.

Dr Bahar Tunçgenç, the study’s first author, said:

“We saw that people didn’t simply follow the rules if they felt vulnerable or were personally convinced.

Instead, this uncertain and threatening environment highlighted the crucial role of social influence.

Most diligent followers of the guidelines were those whose friends and family also followed the rules.

We also saw that people who were particularly bonded to their country were more likely to stick to lockdown rules–the country was like family in this way, someone you were willing to stick your neck out for.”

The research included almost 7,000 people in over 100 countries.

They were asked how much they followed and approved of local COVID rules.

The results showed that people’s personal principles had relatively little influence.

What mattered for people’s behaviour was what their friends and family did.

The results held across different countries, genders and age groups.

People were even more likely to follow the rules if they felt close to the country — as though it were part of their family.

Professor Ophelia Deroy, study co-author, said:

“Public policies are on the wrong track: We see scientists and politicians trying to boost the public’s approval of the measures, so that vaccination campaigns and lockdowns get the support of the citizens, but approval does not mean compliance!

You may make up your own mind about the measures, or listen to experts, but eventually, what you do depends on what your close friends do.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychology (Tunçgenç et al., 2021).

The Widespread Diet Linked To Severe COVID Infection

COVID-19 patients who have this syndrome are more likely to experience severe infection.

COVID-19 patients who have this syndrome are more likely to experience severe infection.

An unhealthy gut can reduce the chance of surviving a COVID infection.

Factors like a “Western diet”, long-term illness, and aging can cause microbial imbalance in the gut, resulting in a leaky gut.

Leaky gut syndrome enables the COVID-19 virus to get through the surface of internal organs and the digestive tract, making the infection worse, a study has found.

The severity of infection is due to the ACE2 protein which is the entry point for SARS-CoV-2.

The protein is largely located on the surface of organs such as intestines, heart, and lungs.

SARS-CoV-2 infection can cause severe symptoms such as respiratory complications and high fevers.

Furthermore, autopsies show that the infection can damage the heart, liver, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, spleen, and kidneys.

Some hospitalized patients not only have breathing difficulty but also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

This suggests that if the virus reaches the GI tract, it can cause more damage to patients.

We now know that older people and those with health conditions such as diabetes, obesity or even high blood pressure are at increased risk of severe coronavirus disease.

It appears that aging and underlying health conditions can disturb gut microbiota, causing gut barrier dysfunction in which the wall of the intestine becomes permeable.

In this situation, toxins and pathogens including any virus or bacteria can easily enter the lining of the intestine.

Dr Heenam Stanley Kim, the study’s author, said:

“There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe COVID-19.”

Some studies have argued that unhealthy gut microbiomes could be the hidden cause of severe infections in some people, Dr Kim noted.

For instance, a study in Singapore found that 50 percent of symptomatic patients with COVID-19 carried a noticeable amount of the coronavirus in stool samples, while only half of them had gastrointestinal symptoms, suggesting the possibility of no harm by the virus despite reaching the GI tract.

Dr Kim, however, hinted that whether the symptoms progress is dependent on people’s gut health when infected.

Several studies have found that COVID-19 patients have a lower level of bacterial diversity and beneficial bacteria but higher amounts of pathogenic organisms.

The microbial imbalance (gut dysbiosis) have also been found in influenza patients.

The coronavirus appears to reduce a type of bacteria that produces a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate.

This fatty acid is important for gut health since it enhances intestinal barrier function.

Zuo and colleagues suggest the use of a probiotic formula addressing gut dysbiosis in order to enhance immune defence against viral infections such as COVID-19.

The other issue is that the Western diet causes changes in gut microbiome composition.

Dr Kim noted that Western Europe and the United States are well known to be wealthy with a well-functioning health care system, but they are one of the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

These countries have one thing in common; the Western diet, which is poor in fibre.

Dr Kim said:

“A fiber-deficient diet is one of the main causes of altered gut microbiomes.

And such gut microbiome dysbiosis leads to chronic diseases.”

Eating fibre rich foods can lower the severity of illness but patients with severe Covid-19 might need fecal microbiota transplantation to treat the infection.

Dr Kim said:

“The whole world is suffering from this COVID-19 pandemic, but what people do not realize is that the pandemic of damaged gut microbiomes is far more serious now.”

The study was published in the journal mBio (Kim, 2021).

How COVID-19 Affects The Brain

The brains of people who have had the disease show signs of leaky blood vessel damage.

The brains of people who have had the disease show signs of leaky blood vessel damage.

A new study finds no evidence of the novel coronavirus entering the brain or that it attacks the brain directly.

However, the brains of people who have had the disease show signs of leaky blood vessel damage.

This may be the result of the immune reaction the body mounts in response to the virus.

Despite the findings in this study, a recent study on mice has suggested that the COVID-19 virus may enter the brain, while another study has suggested how it may do so (Meinhardt et al., 2020).

Scientists are trying to explain why people with COVID-19 are reporting cognitive symptoms like brain fog and fatigue from what is primarily a respiratory disease.

Some think the virus may invade the brain’s respiratory centre, affecting breathing as well as the olfactory bulb, which controls the sense of smell.

Dr Avindra Nath, the study’s first author, said:

“We found that the brains of patients who contract infection from SARS-CoV-2 may be susceptible to microvascular blood vessel damage.

Our results suggest that this may be caused by the body’s inflammatory response to the virus.

We hope these results will help doctors understand the full spectrum of problems patients may suffer so that we can come up with better treatments.”

The results of this study are based on an examination of the brain tissue of 19 people who died after contracting COVID-19.

They found dark spots in the brain containing leaky and clotted blood vessels.

Dr Nath said:

“We were completely surprised.

Originally, we expected to see damage that is caused by a lack of oxygen.

Instead, we saw multifocal areas of damage that is usually associated with strokes and neuroinflammatory diseases.”

Lastly, researchers used several methods for detecting genetic material related to SARS-CoV-2, but discovered nothing.

Dr Nath said:

“So far, our results suggest that the damage we saw may not have been not caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly infecting the brain.

In the future, we plan to study how COVID-19 harms the brain’s blood vessels and whether that produces some of the short- and long-term symptoms we see in patients.”

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Lee et al., 2020).

COVID-19: Lasting Immunity After Mild Or Asymptomatic Infection

People with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 retain long-term immunity.

People with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 retain long-term immunity.

There is a growing body of evidence showing that people have lasting immunity after asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 infection.

A new study looked at antibody and T cell responses of a group healthcare workers with asymptomatic or mild covid-19 infection.

The results suggest that 89 percent of those healthcare workers had neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 during 16-18 week follow-up after infection.

They also possessed T cells with the ability of detecting different parts of the virus.

However, these two levels of defence were not always coupled as some were showing neutralizing antibodies but not T cell immunity and vice versa.

Dr Joseph Gibbons, the study’s co-author, explained:

“Our study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare workers from London hospitals reveals that four months after infection, around 90 percent of individuals have antibodies that block the virus.

Even more encouragingly, in 66 percent of healthcare workers we see levels of these protective antibodies are high and that this robust antibody response is complemented by T cells which we see reacting to various parts of the virus.

This is good news.

It means that if you have been infected there is a good chance that you will have developed antibodies and T cells that may provide some protection if you encounter the virus again.”

Since the start of the pandemic researchers have been trying to find out how our body is protected against the coronavirus and how long this immunity will last.

The focus is mostly on B cells that produce antibodies and T cells responsible for making white blood cells to destroy infected cells.

This research reveals that some people didn’t produce T cells in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Notably, people with asymptomatic infection had less T cell immunity than those with classic COVID-19 symptoms.

However, both groups with symptomatic or asymptomatic infection had comparable neutralizing antibodies.

It seems even after mild infections people produce antibodies and T cells that recognize coronavirus epitopes.

Thus, vaccination provides the same effect in which our immune system would be able to detect the epitopes (a part of the antigen that binds to an antibody).

When a new variant appears the changes are not enough to stop the immune system from recognizing the epitopes, therefore the vaccine should work.

Dr. Corinna Pade, study co-author, said:

“Our study in asymptomatic and mild cases gives a positive insight into the durability of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after four months of infection.

A remarkable number of around 90 percent of individuals have a joint force of strong antibodies that prevent the virus from entering, coupled with T cell responses to various parts of the virus to interfere with its survival.

This is an important find as mild or even no symptoms of COVID-19 are very common and representative of most infections in the community.

Such abundant immune responses also give hope for the long-lasting efficacy of vaccines.”

Pervious studies such as Wajnberg et al. and Ripperger et al., suggest that most recovered patients produce a strong antibody response lasting for a long time after infection.

The study was published in the journal Science Immunology (Reynolds et al., 2020).

How COVID Has Distorted Our Sense Of Time (M)

The effect of lockdowns on our perception of the passage of time.

The effect of lockdowns on our perception of the passage of time.

Lockdown and social and physical distancing measures have changed most people’s perception of time, research finds.

Around 40 percent of people felt time passed quicker during lockdown, while 40 percent felt it passed more slowly.

People who are busy, unstressed and happy with their social interactions found the time passed the quickest.

Dr Ruth Ogden, the study’s author, said:

“Eighty percent of people experienced distortion to the passage of time during the lockdown.

Lockdown passing more slowly than normal was associated with older age and reduced satisfaction with social interactions.”

The conclusions come from a survey of 604 people in the UK who answered a questionnaire about their perception of time during lockdown.

The results showed that young people tended to experience an acceleration in time during lockdown — it felt to them as though it was passing quicker.

This was particularly true of those who were busy, experiencing low levels of stress and who were satisfied with their levels of social interaction.

Introverts, who need less social interaction, this implies, tend to find the time flying during lockdown.

Extraverts — people who prefer more social interaction — are not so lucky.

In contrast to the young, older people tended to experience time slowing during lockdown.

This was especially true for those who were stressed, had little to occupy them and were socially dissatisfied.

Of course, our perceptions of time regularly shift, lockdown or not, depending on the activities, emotions or environment we are experiencing.

Dr Ogden writes:

“…positive affect and higher arousal are associated with the sensation of time passing more quickly in the moment.

[However,] negative affect (sadness) and low arousal are associated with time passing more slowly than normal.

People with depression report that time passes more slowly than normal during episodes of depression.

Boredom has also been consistently associated with a slowing of the passage of time in a range of laboratory and real-world studies.”

→ My favourite everyday example of time distortion is the well-travelled road effect.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Ogden et al., 2020).

The Personality Type Suffering Most In Lockdown (M)

The type is characterised by negative thinking in a range of areas.

The type is characterised by negative thinking in a range of areas.

Keep reading with a Premium Membership

• Read members-only and premium articles
• Access courses
• Adverts removed
• Cancel at any time
• 14 day money-back guarantee for new members

There Are 6 Main COVID Strains: Will The Vaccines Still Work?

Can the vaccines still be effective on the virus mutations and its strains? Experts have the answer.

Can the vaccines still be effective on the virus mutations and its strains? Experts have the answer.

The novel coronavirus does mutate, but seems to change little, which is why the current vaccines should continue to work, new research finds.

The virus has a slow rate of mutation, even though currently six main strains at a minimum are known to exist.

The results from the largest study on genetic sequencing and the origin of SARS-CoV-2 confirm that the mutations can’t disrupt any efficient vaccine.

Scientists from Bologna University analysed 48,635 genomes of the virus in order to map the novel coronavirus mutations and its spread around the world.

They observed that the virus shows little difference: about seven mutations per sample.

This is good news since the flu (influenza) has twice as much genetic variability as the coronavirus.

Dr Federico Giorgi, the study’s co-author, said:

“The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is presumably already optimized to affect human beings, and this explains its low evolutionary change.

This means that the treatments we are developing, including a vaccine, might be effective against all the virus strains.”

The L-strain seem to be the original one detected in Wuhan on December 2019.

This type, along with the S, V, and G strains, are the most common, however the L and V strains are disappearing.

The G type is the most widespread in the world, especially in Europe and Italy and in February 2020 it mutated to GH and GR strains.

Dr Giorgi said:

“Strain G and its related strains GR and GH are by far the most widespread, representing 74% of all gene sequences we analysed.

They present four mutations, two of which are able to change the sequence of the RNA polymerase and Spike proteins of the virus.

This characteristic probably facilitates the spread of the virus.”

The coronavirus map shows that the GH strain is more frequent in Germany, France and North America, whereas the GR strain appears more often in South America.

The G, GH and GR strains are increasing globally and spreading in China and other parts of Asia.

Strain S has been detected in some parts of Spain and the US.

The research team has also noted some rare mutations but are not concerned.

Dr Giorgi said:

“Rare genomic mutations are less than 1% of all sequenced genomes.

However, it is fundamental that we study and analyse them so that we can identify their function and monitor their spread.

All countries should contribute to the cause by giving access to data about the virus genome sequences.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology (Mercatelli & Giorgi, 2020).

The Common Side-Effects Of The Pfizer Vaccine

People can experience symptoms like COVID-19 after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

People can experience symptoms like COVID-19 after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

The adverse effects of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine shouldn’t be disregarded despite the vaccine being generally well-tolerated.

People could experience similar symptoms to COVID-19 such as:

  • feeling nauseous,
  • dizzy,
  • chilled,
  • having a headache,
  • soreness and extreme muscle pain at the injection site,
  • and fever of 105°F (40.5 °C).

Swelling at the injection site after the first jab seems to be common as it was also reported in the Pfizer-BioNTech phase 1 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial.

According to data from Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trial, after the second dose of BNT162b2 (the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech):

  • 75 percent of participants aged between 18 and 55 had fatigue,
  • 67 percent headache,
  • 33 percent chills,
  • 25 percent muscle pain,
  • and 17 percent fever.

Side-effects are sign of normal response

Dr Kristen Choi, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at UCLA, who participated in Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trial published her experience.

After the first shot, her arm was sore but she didn’t experience anything unusual.

However, her body reacted strongly after the second dose:

“My arm quickly became painful at the injection site, much more than the first time.

By the end of the day, I felt light-headed, chilled, nauseous, and had a splitting headache.

I went to bed early and fell asleep immediately.

Around midnight, I woke up feeling worse—feverish and chilled, nauseated, dizzy, and hardly able to lift my arm from muscle pain at the injection site.

At 5:30 am, I felt hot.

Burning.

I took my temperature and looked at the reading: 104.9 °F (40.5 °C).

This was the highest fever I can ever remember having, and it scared me.”

The next day she called the research office and was told that many people have reactions after receiving the second shot.

She was advised to monitor her symptoms and give them a call should anything change.

By the next day her symptoms were gone, except for the soreness and swelling at the injection site.

She explains that the side-effects are normal signs showing the effective immune response to the vaccine.

She added:

“Despite the extensive information I had on the research process and vaccine, on a personal level I did not get the message that I should anticipate a reactogenic response.

I was scared when I saw that I had a fever, and my gut reaction after months of scrutinizing myself for all the possible COVID-19 symptoms was: Do I have COVID-19?”

She concludes that practitioners should discuss the possible side-effects with patients and let them know that the reaction to the vaccine could look like the coronavirus symptoms.

This information will help people to overcome fear of vaccination.

The report was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine (Kristen Choi, 2020).

Get free email updates

Join the free PsyBlog mailing list. No spam, ever.