Brinkwire.com South Africa
People with high blood sugar levels are more than TWICE as likely to die from Covid-19 - Brinkwire
Patients with Covid-19 and high blood sugar levels are twice as likely to die from the coronavirus than those with lower levels – even without a diabetes diagnosis, a study shows. Researchers working in China looked back at patients admitted to different hospitals in Wuhan with high blood sugar levels who later died of the Covid-19. Previous studies have shown a link between abnormally high blood sugar and a greater risk of death from pneumonia, stroke, heart attacks, trauma and surgery. A link has also been shown between diabetes and a greater risk of death from Covid-19, according to the Huazhong University of Science and Technology team. And the researchers say their findings show that, even without a diabetes diagnosis, high blood sugar is linked to a raised risk of dying from coronavirus. They recommend hospitals introduce blood glucose level screening when patients are admitted with coronavirus symptoms. Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine, University of Glasgow, not involved in the study, said the reports findings are in line with expectations. ‘We know, for example, that those with higher blood sugar levels will have more severe disease, because more severe disease will stress metabolic pathways more, leading sugar levels to rise in the sickest patients,’ Sattar said. The Chinese team looked at fasting blood glucose levels at admission from January 24, 2020 to February 10, 2020 in two hospitals in Wuhan, China. They also examined demographic and clinical data, 28-day outcomes, in-hospital complications and the severity of pneumonia in patients with the condition. A total of 605 COVID-19 patients were covered by the study, including 114 who died in hospital – with an average age of 59 years. Thirty-four per cent had one or more underlying conditions, but had not been diagnosed with diabetes, with high blood pressure being the most common. Almost one third of patients had blood sugar levels so high that if they were constantly at that level they would be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The results showed that patients in the highest blood sugar level group were 2.3 times more likely to die than those in the lowest, a statistically significant result. Those in the middle group were 71 per cent more likely to die than those in the lowest group, although this result only had borderline statistical significance. The data also showed that men admitted with higher blood sugar levels were 75 per cent more likely to die than women with similar levels. The authors said they have shown high blood sugar levels are an indicator of a greater chance of dying from coronavirus or suffering complications from the virus. ‘These results indicate that our study included both undiagnosed diabetic patients and non-diabetic patients with hyperglycaemia caused by an acute blood-glucose disorder,’ the authors wrote. ‘Patients with conditions not related to diabetes, such as severe sepsis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and traumatic brain injury tend to have abnormally high blood sugar.’ There were limitations to the study, for example the team didn’t have data on measures taken to lower blood sugar levels such as insulin and its impact. ‘What the authors cannot confirm is whether differential targeting of blood sugar levels in those admitted leads to differences in outcomes,’ Professor Sattar said. ‘It would be a step too far to assume from this study that targeting blood sugar more aggressively to lower levels than currently practised in hospitalised patients would make a difference. ‘Doctors are already testing sugar levels in such patients so this is not new either but whether these levels help determine outcomes when more clinical data are factored in, is also not certain.’ The authors suggest that possible mechanisms for this increased mortality include changes to the way blood clots form and the function of the walls of blood vessels. The other major suggestion is the overproduction of inflammatory cytokines (small proteins important in cell signaling) produced by the immune system – the so-called cytokine storm. ‘In conclusion, a fasting blood glucose level of 7.0 mmol/l or higher at admission is an independent predictor for 28-day mortality in patients with Covid-19 without previous diagnosis of diabetes,’ the team wrote. ‘Blood sugar testing and control should be recommended to all Covid-19 patients even if they do not have pre-existing diabetes, as most Covid-19 patients are prone to glucose metabolic disorders. ‘During a pandemic of Covid-19, measuring fasting blood glucose can facilitate the assessment of prognosis and early intervention of hyperglycaemia to help improve the overall outcomes in treatment of Covid-19.’ The findings have been published in the journal Diabetologia.
Coronavirus pandemic shut down world's most powerful telescopes - Brinkwire
It’s as if the Earth has closed its eyes, some scientists say: the coronavirus pandemic has forced astronomers in northern Chile to shut down the world’s most powerful telescopes, running the risk of missing out on supernovas and other spectacles in space. Scientists have been unable to take advantage of the pristine skies over Chile’s Atacama desert since late March, when its array of world-renowned observatories were shuttered. This area is home to the European Southern Observatory that consists of the revolutionary Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA, whose 66 antennae combine to make it the world’s most advanced radio telescope. With out these technologies actively looking at the sky, humans will be oblivious to what astronomers call randomly occurring transitory phenomena, like Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) or supernovas and will be lost forever to the starry wastes. Astronomer John Carpenter said:’ Any GRB or supernova that goes off while we’re shut down, we can’t really observe it.’ ‘We will have missed the opportunity to observe it because it catches on so fast and then fades away, so it’s these opportunities that are lost.’ ‘It’s also a critical time to observe Betelgeuse, the giant red star in the constellation of Orionthe 10th brightest in the night skywhich has suddenly dimmed, prompting speculation that it could explode, though that could take decades.’ ‘We were starting a campaign to observe and monitor it when we had to closeso we couldn’t continue,’ Carpenter told AFP. Carpenter is chief scientist at the revolutionary Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA, an observatory whose 66 antennae combine to make it the world’s most advanced radio telescope. Carpenter said his observatory’s operations have been on hold since March 18. ALMA is just one of an array of observatories in Chile’s arid north that comprise more than half of humanity’s astronomical power. Just 250 miles away from ALMA is the Paranal Observatory and its Very Large Telescope, the world’s most powerful. The coronavirus pandemic has hit Chile hard, forcing a month-long lockdown of its capital Santiago. More than 2,450 people have died from Chile’s 150,000 COVID-19 cases. Itziar de Gregorio, head of the science office of the European Southern Observatory, said: ‘There are a very small number of people who are taking care of the observatory but no observation is being carried out.’ De Gregorio voiced a more optimistic view over the opportunities for stargazing lost to the Earthly health crisis: scientists are likely to get another chance. Astronomers chose the vast Atacama desert for its pristine atmospherethere is little rain and low humidity year-round. With telescopes shut down and antennas switched off, space watchers are instead focusing on processing the myriad data collected during long accumulated nights of observation. Specialists have ‘several months’ of work to keep them going until the pandemic passes and the planets are opened up to them again, said Caludio Melo, ESO representative in Chile. ‘Of course, at any given point new observations will be needed but we cannot know yet when that will be,’ Melo told AFP. In some ways, the biggest losers are young scientists working to finish research on doctoral studies, ‘because they have more critical deadlines,’ said Carpenter. The long weeks of standstill mean a lag in their observation requests, he said. ‘It will be a significant delay. We observe approximately 4,000 hours every year at ALMA with the 12-meter antenna complex, so if the shutdown lasts six months, it is 2,000 hours of lost observation.’
Lost your sense of smell or taste? Help researchers uncover connections between chemical senses and COVID-19. - Brinkwire
Have you recently lost your sense of taste or smell while suffering from a respiratory illness? If so, scientists are asking you to take a surveyone that could help uncover connections between the chemical senses and COVID-19. The new survey was launched by an international collaboration of scientists, clinicians and other expertsincluding University of Chicago neuroscientist Leslie Kay, an expert on how smells are sensed, perceived and processed by the brain. “The smell and taste symptoms are not only important on their own, but they also give us clues into how the virus is working,” said Kay, one of more than 500 individuals involved in the Global Consortium of Chemosensory Researchers (GCCR). The fact that some people experience smell loss without exhibiting any other symptoms, she said, suggests that COVID-19 is not affecting smell by blocking the airways like a cold or sinus infection. It might instead affect the sensory epithelium in the nosethe part of the nasal airway that contains odor receptors and other supporting cells. Those clues could help scientists and medical professionals better understand the novel coronavirusand, hopefully, prevent its spread. By surveying individuals who might be suffering from a range of respiratory or flu-like symptoms, they hope to uncover whether smell or taste loss manifest differently in those who contract COVID-19. The GCCR, which has members in 38 countries, is led by scholars at Temple University, Penn State, the University of Florida, and several other universities and institutions. The survey can be found at gcchemosensr.org. It will be translated into more than 30 languages, including Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic. Results will be made publicly available through the Open Science Framework. Provided byUniversity of Chicago