May 5, 2020

Mayo Clinic COVID-19 daily news

By Susan Murphy

Understanding herd immunity

The concept of herd immunity, or community immunity, has sparked debate about whether it would control the spread of COIVD-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), herd immunity is a situation in which sufficient proportions of a population are immune to an infectious disease to make its spread from person to person unlikely.

Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert and director of the Vaccine Research Group, explains the idea behind herd immunity.

"Herd immunity basically means, if you could envision a circle, let's say, of 100 people inside this circle and if you can imagine the susceptible people being in the center of that, the more immune people around the susceptible people, the less likely is it that the virus can penetrate in and actually infect somebody," says Dr. Poland. Read more.

Regenerative approaches could foster healing from COVID-19

Regenerative Medicine aims not only to repair or restore the function of cells, tissues or organs, but also the whole person. The latter is particularly important amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Regenerative approaches draw on the body’s natural abilities to heal, focus on establishing the healing environments and building new, healthy ways of functioning. These aspects of regenerative medicine may nurture healing in people who’ve contracted the virus, those who treat it and the broader community whose lives have suddenly been changed by the pandemic.

Creating safe, trusting environments

When people are diagnosed with COVID-19, their illness may go beyond physical afflictions to a breakdown of the mind and spirit. Some Coronavirus patients are immediately isolated, separating them from the people they love. That may trigger confusion, fear, anxiety and mistrust.

In a normal health care environment, patients might be soothed by welcoming faces and warm touches of medical professionals. But in the new world of a virus to which no one is immune, caregivers must wear personal protective equipment for their own safety. The face masks that allow patient and clinician to come together safely may also be a barrier that increases isolation and fear. Read more.

Mayo Clinic expert discusses potential neurological effects of COVID-19

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can take a severe toll on the respiratory system. However, recent research suggests that the virus may also infect the nervous system. A study of patients with COVID-19 out of Wuhan, China found that possible neurological signs and symptoms caused by COVID-19 can include loss of taste and smell, headache, impaired consciousness, and stroke.

Dr. Allen Aksamit Jr., a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says what's unclear is whether that is direct effects of the virus actually getting into the nervous system and damaging the brain or an indirect effect as a consequence of the respiratory and other compromise of the rest of the body.  

"When people are sick, when their respiratory system is failing, that will have adverse effects on the brain because of poor oxygenation and other metabolic effects on the brain. Those things we know as serious, but we also know that those are not direct effects of the virus on the brain itself," says Dr. Aksamit. Read more.

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