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WHO underestimates coronavirus’ ability to spread: Study

The World Health Organization estimates that the coronavirus has a transmissibility, expressed as a reproduction number, of between 1.4 and 2.5.

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Coronavirus

London, Feb 15 : The novel coronavirus may have greater ability to spread than the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated so far, according to a review of previous studies of the virus’ transmissibility.

“Our review shows that the coronavirus is at least as transmissible as the SARS virus. And that says a great deal about the seriousness of the situation,” said Joacim Rocklov, Professor of Sustainable Health at Umea University in Sweden and one of the authors of the study, published in the Journal of Travel Medicine.

The World Health Organization estimates that the coronavirus has a transmissibility, expressed as a reproduction number, of between 1.4 and 2.5.

A reproduction number is a measurement of how many people a contaminated person transmits the virus to in a previously healthy population.

The higher the number, the more transferable the virus is and the higher the risk of its rapid spread.

When the reproduction number falls below 1.0, the epidemic is likely to die out.

Researchers in Umea in Sweden, Heidelberg in Germany and Zhangzhou in China have carried out a review of several scientific studies of the novel coronavirus.

In total, the researchers found twelve studies of sufficiently high quality.

The studies consisted of estimations of the growth rate based upon the cases observed in the Chinese population, and based upon statistical and mathematical methods.

The earliest studies of the coronavirus indicated a relatively low transmissibility. Thereafter, the transmissibility rose rapidly to stabilise between 2-3 in the most recent studies.

The reproduction number in the studies summed up to a mean of 3.28, and a median of 2.79, which is significantly higher than the World Health Organization’s estimation of 1.4-2.5.

“When looking at the development of the corona epidemic, reality seems to correspond well to or even exceed the highest epidemic growth in our calculations. Despite all intervention and control activities, the coronavirus has already spread to a significantly higher extent than SARS did,” said Rocklov.

The overall death toll in China due to the deadly coronavirus on Saturday increased to 1,523, with a total of 66,492 confirmed cases, authorities said.

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Faculty of Johns Hopkins University authored COVID-19 report on India

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Coronavirus outbreak

New Delhi, March 29 : A story by IANS on the impact of coronavirus in India earlier this week was based on a study done by a faculty of Johns Hopkins University, the institution has said in a tweet.

There were some reports about Johns Hopkins disassociating itself from CDDEP’s Covid-19 study.

Johns Hopkins University tweeted on Saturday late night clarifying that the study was done by a faculty of JHU and states that the use of strong scientific modeling based on available data and clear assumptions to help inform the COVID-19 response in India.

“New report co-authored by faculty w/ appointments at @JohnsHopkinsSPH uses strong scientific modelling based on available data & clear assumptions to help inform the #Covid19 response in India. Note: Its findings do not reflect the views of @JohnsHopkins,” said the tweet by The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of International Health- focusing on global health research, education, policy and practice.

The research was done by faculty of Johns Hopkins University, it clarified, although the study does not reflect the views of the University.

The study titled Covid 19 for India updates was authored by Eili Klein, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Gary Lin, Post Doctoral Fellow of the same department, Ramanan Laxminarayan, CDDEP, Senior Associate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Senior Research Scholar, Princeton University and authors from CDDEP.

Following an earlier clarification from JHU, TV channel group, NDTV deleted the IANS report. Similarly, Alt News had also pointed out this clarification.

Furthermore, Laxminarayan has written an op-ed piece for the New York Times on what India should do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Senior research scholar at @PrincetonPEI Ramanan Laxminarayan writes an op-ed for @nytimes about what India should do to fight #COVID19,” said a tweet from Princeton University on Saturday.

To put the facts straight, aside from some standards on studies not representing the views of an institution, the IANS report was based on a credible report in the public domain which had faculty from Johns Hopkins University, the pre-eminent research institution as authors and one author who is associated both with Johns Hopkins and Princeton, another premier institution.

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Analysis

Covid-19 world toll crosses 30,000, cases over 640,000

The COVID-19 is affecting 132 countries and territories around the world.

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Patients infected with the novel coronavirus

New Delhi, March 29 : The number of coronavirus cases across the world rose to 640,589 as on Saturday evening, with the US leading with 115,547 cases, while the global death toll rose to 30,249 according to data from the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Italy, with 10,023 fatalities, comprised over one third of the death toll, and was followed by Spain with 5,812 and China’s Hubei with 3,177. Iran with 2,517 deaths, and France with 2,314 were joined in the four-figure category by the UK, where the toll is now 1,019.

As regards the total number of cases, the US was followed by Italy (92,472), China (81,999), Spain (72,248), Germany (56,202), Iran (35,408), France (33,450) and the UK (17,301).

Meanwhile, a total of 137,283 people have recovered from the infection with the bulk — 62,098 — of them from China’s Hubei, the site of the disease outbreak, followed by 12,384 in Italy, 12,285 in Spain, 11,679 in Iran, and 6,658 in Germany.

The death toll had crossed 25,000 on Friday night, with the total number of cases around the world then were 553,244, with the US leading the tally at 86,012, followed by China at 81,897 and Italy at 80,859.

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Health

Legal marijuana products too strong for pain relief: Study

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New York, March 28 : More than 90 per cent of the legal marijuana products offered in medical dispensaries are much stronger than what clinical studies have shown that doctors recommend for chronic pain relief, according to new research.

“We know that high-potency products should not have a place in the medical realm because of the high risk of developing cannabis-use disorders, which are related to exposure to high THC-content products,” said the study’s lead author, Alfonso Edgar Romero-Sandoval from Wake Forest School of Medicine in the US.

Several studies showed that levels of up to five per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that provides pain relief as well as intoxication – were sufficient to reduce chronic pain with minimal side effects.

The goal of the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE was to evaluate the advertised THC and cannabidiol (CBD) content of legal cannabis products to determine their suitability for medicinal use and to compare the potency of the products offered in medical and recreational programmes.

The researchers recorded the concentrations of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) – the non-euphoric compound in marijuana – in all plant cannabis products provided by legal dispensary websites and compared them between or within the states in the study: California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

A total of 8,505 cannabis products across 653 dispensaries were sampled.

The researchers found that most of the products offered in the medical dispensaries in the study had more than 10 per cent THC and that many had 15 per cent or more, the same as what is available in products at recreational dispensaries.

“This is problematic because between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of people who use medical marijuana use it for pain relief,” Romero-Sandoval said.

The higher the concentration of THC the greater risk, not only for developing dependency but also for developing tolerance more quickly, which means higher and higher concentrations might be needed to get the same level of pain relief, the study said.

“Better regulation of the potency of medical marijuana products is critical. The FDA regulates the level of over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen that have dose-specific side effects, so why don’t we have policies and regulations for cannabis, something that is far more dangerous?,” Romero-Sandoval said.

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