I’m an Infectious Disease Doctor and Here’s When COVID Will ‘End’

As COVID-19 cases continue to pile up across the country, many of us are wondering when—and if—the highly infectious and potentially deadly virus is ever going to go away. According to a top Yale pathologist, the answer is no. It is going to be with us “indefinitely.”

“It’s going to tail off, not end abruptly,” Sheldon Campbell, MD, Ph.D., a laboratory medicine specialist at Yale Medicine and professor of laboratory medicine at Yale School of Medicine, tells Eat This, Not That! Health. “I think COVID-19 will be with us indefinitely.” Read on to find out what they are, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.

‘We’re Unlikely to Eradicate It”

Dr. Campbell explains that despite the fact that the measles vaccine was developed in 1963 (enhanced in 1968 and MMR in ’71), is “absolutely superb,” fifty years later it is still not eradicated. “COVID is quite infectious, there are many asymptomatic cases to maintain it in a population, so we’re unlikely to eradicate it like we did SARS,” he adds. And while top researchers like Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci are optimistic that a vaccine will be ready in 2021, he points out that there are still a lot of questions. “Will a vaccine block transmission or merely attenuate or limit symptoms? How many doses, how far apart? How effective will it be at preventing

As many as 1 in 3 coronavirus patients could experience neurological or psychological after-effects

The effects of the coronavirus do not end when patients “leave the hospital,” Wes Ely, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Stat News. And one of the ways COVID-19 appears to linger in recovered hospitalized patients is its effect on neurological and psychological well-being — Statreports as many as 1 in 3 recovering patients could experience after-effects in those areas.

This “COVID fog” makes patients feel like they “can’t think,” writes Stat. Since the early days of the pandemic in China and Europe, clinicians have described patients who continue to suffer from things like nerve damage, cognitive impairment, depression, and anxiety after their release. It’s unclear if and when those folks will see their conditions improve, but experts are using their experience treating other pathogens and delirium after Intensive Care Unit stays, using results from brain autopsies and interviews with patients to get a sense of what’s really going on.

“We would say that perhaps between 30 percent and 50 percent of people with an infection that has clinical manifestations are going to have some form of mental health issues,”said Teodor Postolache, professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “That could be anxiety or depression, but also nonspecific symptoms that include fatigue, sleep, and waking abnormalities, a general sense of not being at your best, not being fully recovered in terms of the abilities of performing academically, occupationally, potentially physically.” Read more at Stat News.

Vaccine Expert Has A Grim Prediction Of What Coronavirus Will Do ‘For Years And Years’

Vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez on Friday predicted the coronavirus will continue to plague the United States “for years and years, even after vaccines are out and we get people vaccinated.”

Hotez, the director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace that COVID-19 in the U.S. was “still spiraling out of control,” noting recent forecasts that 300,000 people could die from the disease by December.

The virus has now killed more than 160,000 people nationwide.

Hotez, who has long rejected and contested the anti-vaccine movement, noted how Russian intelligence officers have reportedly been part of a disinformation campaign to sow doubt about vaccines in development for the virus.

Anti-science campaigners were fueling further deaths with their stances against social distancing and the wearing of face masks to mitigate its spread, Hotez argued.

He warned the White House will step up its attacks on scientists, as it did with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has countered the government’s narrative on the crisis.

“So, put your tray-table up in the upright and locked position. It’s going to be a very tough fall, I’m afraid,” said Hotez.

The coronavirus could still be contained, Hotez claimed, but that would require “leadership at the federal level, and there was never an interest or curiosity for the federal government to lead this,” a reference to Trump’s passing of the buck to governors.

The White House’s failure to properly advocate for face masks, support contact tracing and introduce more lockdowns to quell outbreaks “is why we have the world’s worst COVID-19 epidemic and it’s still growing,” he said.

Trump for months downplayed the risk of the illness and later pushed for the premature reopening of schools and businesses, which many pundits claim was a ploy to get the economy back on track ahead of the 2020 election.

“Sometimes we talk about it as though it’s the past and the worst is over. The worst is yet to come,” Hotez concluded. “We’re going to double the number of deaths over the next few months and now we know it’s not just deaths. We’re seeing long-term injury to the lungs, to the vascular system, to the heart, neurologic deficits, cognitive deficits. This will plague the country for years and years, even after vaccines are out and we get people vaccinated.”

A Columbia scientist’s ‘new and powerful weapon’ against the coronavirus destroys particles using UV light without harming people

A bus being disinfected by ultraviolet light on March 4, 2020 in Shanghai, China.

Zhang Hengwei/China News Service/Getty Images

  • Evidence suggests that ultraviolet light can destroy the coronavirus, making it a promising disinfectant.
  • But the kind of UV light that destroys viruses is also dangerous to humans.
  • Columbia scientists recently discovered a way to harness the pathogen-killing power of UV light without damaging our eyes or skin.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The World Health Organization acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that COVID-19 may spread through the air.

The group’s shift was prompted a growing body of research suggesting that coronavirus-laden aerosols — tiny particles produced when a person talks, coughs, sings, or exhales — can linger in the air and travel more than 6 feet from an infected person.

More than 200 scientists recently sent a letter to the WHO suggesting a few ways to limit this kind of airborne transmission: In addition to improving ventilation and reducing crowds in indoor spaces, the scientists also proposed using ultraviolet light to remove virus particles from the air.

UV light is already used to kill viruses, including human coronaviruses, in hospitals and laboratories. But not all UV light is the same, and the kind that’s best at killing coronaviruses is also the most dangerous for people. So Researchers at Columbia University came up with a way to harness this light without allowing it penetrate skin cells.

“We do, I think, have a potentially new and powerful weapon in our fight against this terrible virus,” Dr. David Brenner, who is spearheading the research, said at the TED 2020 Conference on Tuesday.

Brenner’s research, published in the journal Nature in June, suggests that 25 minutes of continuous exposure to his modified version of UV light could eradicate 99.9% of human coronaviruses in indoor environments. The novel coronavirus should be no exception to this rule, he said.

Based on Brenner’s findings, New York City recently unveiled a pilot program that uses UV lamps to sanitize subways and buses.

Not all UV light kills coronaviruses

The three main categories of UV light are UVA, UVB, and UVC. Hospitals and transit systems rely on UVC, which is the most dangerous to humans, to extinguish pathogens. UVC light damages a virus’ DNA or RNA, thereby preventing it from multiplying further.

But exposure to UVC light can irritate our skin, damage the cornea in our eyes, and increase our risk of skin cancer. In nature, UVC gets completely absorbed by the ozone, since it has the shortest wavelength of the three types — meaning humans aren’t exposed to it naturally.

That’s why the MTA uses it to clean the subway at night, when trains aren’t in use.

“Come five in the morning, you have a nice clean subway car,” Brenner said. But by the end of the day, he added, “the effects have probably more or less gone away

NYC subway disinfectant

An MTA cleaning contractor sprays disinfectant inside a New York City subway car on on May 23, 2020.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Neither of the other two types of UV light are particularly useful as disinfectants. UVA, the kind with the longest wavelength, is often found in tanning beds and can cause wrinkles. UVB is linked to sunburns and skin cancer.

“UVA and UVB kill a little bit of viruses and bacteria, but not much,” Brenner said.

His team thinks they’ve found a way to make UVC light safer for humans. The solution is a much shorter wavelength of UVC light — called “far-UVC”— that won’t penetrate the barriers on our eyes and skin. Since viruses and bacteria are much smaller than cells, the light can still destroy these pathogens.

Far-UVC could still have damaging side effects

Brenner said his research was inspired by a friend who died of a drug-resistant bacterial disease.

“I was thinking long ago, is there anything physics can tell us to try and stop this problem?” he said. “Two or three years ago, the penny dropped that we could actually use this for viruses, too.”

Before the pandemic, Brenner’s team was testing far-UVC light on seasonal influenza.

“It became immediately apparent to us that the ideas we had for influenza were going to be applicable to COVID-19,” he said.

Spain office ultraviolet light

A robot disinfects a room with ultraviolet light in Madrigalejo del Monte, Spain, on May 12, 2020.

Cesar Manso/AFP/Getty Images

Actual UV light is invisible to the human eye, but many far-UVC lamps produce a purple glow to let people know they’re working, Brenner said.

Some scientists still question the safety of the practice, however. The research is nascent, so it’s possible that long-term exposure to far-UVC light could cause cataracts or skin cancer.

“My excitement [is] tempered with the concern that it could be an application that could have some dangerous side effects or direct effects,” Karl Linden, an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Discover Magazine.

But Brenner said studies over the past five years haven’t found far-UVC to be dangerous to humans in limited quantities.

“There are limits as to how much UV light at any given length we can be exposed to,” he added.

Far-UVC lights could be installed in airports and restaurants

Brenner said at TED that he envisions far-UVC light being incorporated into standard indoor lighting. That would mean any restaurant, airport, office, or school could use overhead lamps to kill off pathogens while simultaneously illuminating a room. Bigger rooms would require more lamps, he added.

“If it’s a small room or an elevator, for example, you’d definitely only have to have one light,” Brenner said.

Brenner said the technology isn’t designed for individuals to purchase for their homes. But he predicted that far-UVC lights might be widely available for use in public or commercial spaces by the end of the year.

“The whole point is to keep killing the viruses as they’re being produced — as people sneeze and talk and cough and shout,” Brenner said. “The lower the level of virus in the air, the less chance there is that it can be transmitted from one person to another.”

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