COVID-19 Roundup: CDC Adds 6 Symptoms to Official List; Cancer Patients at Higher Risk; and Drug in Study Reduces Recovery Time

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May 1, 2020


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CDC Adds Six New Possible COVID-19 Indicators to its Growing List of Symptoms

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added six symptoms to its existing list of common COVID-19 symptoms, as infectious disease experts continue to learn how the coronavirus affects patients.

The added six symptoms, which the CDC says could develop about two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, are:

  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Previously, the CDC listed just three known symptoms: cough, fever, and shortness of breath. “This list is not all inclusive,” adds the CDC. “Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.”

The CDC’s warning signs s for when someone should seek medical attention has not changed. If you have any of these emergency red flags for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Some Cancer Patients More Vulnerable to Serious COVID-19 Complications, Study Says

Public health officials have said previously that cancer patients under treatment, or even cancer survivors, may be more vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19. A new study, published in Cancer Discovery, a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, finds that cancer patients with blood or lung malignancies — or tumors that have spread — carry a higher risk of severe complications or death, compared to coronavirus patients without cancer.

The study focused on 14 hospitals in the Hubei province in central China, where the COVID-19 pandemic originated in December. The study involved 105 cancer patients and 536 non-cancer patients of the same age. All had tested positive for COVID-19. Researchers said a key risk factor for severe COVID-19 complications was having had surgery to fight the cancer.

“Patients who received (cancer) surgery had higher risks of having severe events, while patients with only radiotherapy did not demonstrate significant differences in severe events when compared to patients without cancer,” the study’s authors stated.

The study’s co-authors are from China, Singapore and the United States. The conclusion: cancer patients who were fighting COVID-19 had a death rate nearly three times higher than coronavirus patients who were not cancer patients or cancer survivors. Researchers also found that cancer patients were more likely to require intensive care units (ICUs) and needing ventilators. Other risk factors included age, the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, and the treatment being administered to fight the cancer.

“These findings suggest that patients with cancer are a much more vulnerable population in the current covid-19 outbreak,” the authors said.

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Drug Remdesivir Shows ‘Significant’ Effect in Reducing COVID-19 Recovery Time, U.S. Study Finds

A preliminary status report on a U.S. government-run study of the drug remdesivir found that the medicine is effective in treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In a statement this week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is conducting the study, said preliminary data shows patients who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received a placebo.

More detailed information about the study’s results will be available in a forthcoming report, stated the NIAID, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. Remdesivir is made by the U.S. bio-pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences.

The preliminary data found that the time to recovery was 11 days on remdesivir, compared to 15 days for a placebo, a 31 percent decrease. The mortality rate for the remdesivir group of patients was 8 percent, compared to 11.6 percent for the placebo group. However, the mortality difference was not statistically significant, the researchers said.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” said Anthony Fauci, M.D., the director of NIAID, said during a White House briefing.

The NIAID said it has been “engaged in sustained and ongoing discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate.”

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