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Study reveals how immune system deteriorates due to COVID-19

In a major study, Australian researchers have identified mechanisms leading to the functional deterioration of the immune system in response to severe viral infections, such as HIV or COVID-19

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In a major study, Australian researchers have identified mechanisms leading to the functional deterioration of the immune system in response to severe viral infections, such as HIV or Covid-19.

It is widely known that severe viral infections and cancer cause impairments to the immune system, including to T cells, a process called immune ‘exhaustion’.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Immunology, overcoming immune exhaustion is a major goal for the development of new therapies for cancer or severe viral infections.

“This is an exciting finding, particularly in the context of Covid-19 as one of the big questions is why some people get severely sick, while others experience mild disease,” said study author Daniel Utzschneider from the University of Melbourne in Australia.

For the findings, the research team focused on the question of when and how T cells lose their function and become ‘exhausted’.

It was previously thought that during severe infections, T cells lost their function slowly and over long periods of time.

This research, however, shows that T cells can be impaired within just a few days. It also identified several new mediators of immune exhaustion that may be targeted in new therapies.

“We looked at both mild and overwhelming Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus infections in mice, which serves as a model for severe viral infections in humans, early after the onset of disease, and identified striking differences at the molecular and functional level,” Utzschneider said.

In response to overwhelming infections that are difficult to eliminate and may become chronic, the team were able to show that T cells down-regulate their function within days, while T cells responding to a weaker infection remained highly functional.

T cells are at the heart of immunotherapy for cancer. Therefore, understanding how a T cell function is impaired is central to improving these therapeutic approaches and applying them to other diseases, such as viral infections, they said.

“These findings are extremely exciting. Our data show that T cells could be manipulated during early stages of severe viral infection to improve their activity,” the study authors noted.

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Long-Term Exposure To Air Pollution Can Contribute To Mortality In Covid Cases: Top Medical Body ICMR

Every winter, the air quality in north India, including in Delhi, dips to a dangerous low. Experts have warned that high levels of air pollution can aggravate the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New Delhi: Studies in Europe and the US have established that long-term exposure to air pollution can contribute to mortality in COVID-19 cases, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday.

He stressed that studies have found “virus particles remain suspended with PM 2.5 particulate matter, but they are not active viruses”.

“There have been studies in Europe and the US, where they have looked at polluted areas and compared mortality during lockdown and correlation with pollution… they found that pollution is clearly contributing to mortality in COVID-19 and that’s well established by these studies,” Mr Bhargava said at a press conference.

Every winter, the air quality in north India, including in Delhi, dips to a dangerous low. Experts have warned that high levels of air pollution can aggravate the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is well-proven that pollution is related to mortality, Mr Bhargava said and asserted that the most inexpensive prevention for COVID-19 and pollution is rapid and widespread adoption of wearing masks.

He said in some cities with high pollution levels, people wear masks even when there is no pandemic.

“Following COVID-appropriate behaviour, be it wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene, do not cost us anything. Wearing a mask has a double advantage as it can protect one from COVID-19 as well as from pollution,” the ICMR chief said.

About the spread of coronavirus infection among children in India, he said the country’s overall figure show that of the total COVID-19 positive cases, only eight per cent are below the age of 17.

“For those below five years, the figure would be probably less than one per cent,” Mr Bhargava said, adding there is some evidence that children “can be spreaders, rather super-spreaders”.

Long-Term Exposure To Air Pollution Can Contribute To Mortality In Covid Cases: Top Medical Body ICMR
Every winter, the air quality in north India, including in Delhi, dips to a dangerous low. (File)

New Delhi: Studies in Europe and the US have established that long-term exposure to air pollution can contribute to mortality in COVID-19 cases, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday.
He stressed that studies have found “virus particles remain suspended with PM 2.5 particulate matter, but they are not active viruses”.

“There have been studies in Europe and the US, where they have looked at polluted areas and compared mortality during lockdown and correlation with pollution… they found that pollution is clearly contributing to mortality in COVID-19 and that’s well established by these studies,” Mr Bhargava said at a press conference.

Every winter, the air quality in north India, including in Delhi, dips to a dangerous low. Experts have warned that high levels of air pollution can aggravate the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is well-proven that pollution is related to mortality, Mr Bhargava said and asserted that the most inexpensive prevention for COVID-19 and pollution is rapid and widespread adoption of wearing masks.

He said in some cities with high pollution levels, people wear masks even when there is no pandemic.

“Following COVID-appropriate behaviour, be it wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene, do not cost us anything. Wearing a mask has a double advantage as it can protect one from COVID-19 as well as from pollution,” the ICMR chief said.

About the spread of coronavirus infection among children in India, he said the country’s overall figure show that of the total COVID-19 positive cases, only eight per cent are below the age of 17.

“For those below five years, the figure would be probably less than one per cent,” Mr Bhargava said, adding there is some evidence that children “can be spreaders, rather super-spreaders”.

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In response to a question, Mr Bhargava said that India, so far, has not reported any cases of Kawasaki disease among COVID-19 patients.
Kawasaki is an auto-immune disease that affects children who are less than five years and presents with fever, thrombocytosis and a condition in which the arteries of the heart become dilated.

“It is less common in India. This has been described with COVID-19 in different parts of the world. I don’t think we have had any experience of Kawasaki with COVID-19 in India so far. It is a very rare condition,” Mr Bhargava said.

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Lack of contact-tracing capacity driving coronavirus into ‘darkness’ – WHO

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Michael Ryan WHO

GENEVA : A lack of contact-tracing capacity in Europe, despite very high rates of positive tests, will drive the coronavirus further into the “darkness”, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert told an online briefing on Monday.

“We are seeing very, very high positivity rates and an increasing lack of capacity to do any effective form of contact-tracing, which is going to further drive the disease into darkness,” Mike Ryan said.

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Earthquake – Magnitude 4.8 in Pakistan

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Earthquake Strong

An earthquake of magnitude 4.8 on the Richter scale occurred at 4:14 am today in Pakistan: National Center for Seismology.

The quake jolted Pakistan at 4:14 am on Monday at the depth of 10 km.

“Earthquake of Magnitude:4.8, Occurred on 26-10-2020, 04:14:43 IST, Latitude: 36.13 and Longitude: 71.97, Depth: 10 Km ,Location: Pakistan,” the NSC tweeted.

No casualty has been reported so far.

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