14 May 2020

TMR’s latest podcast and round-up of COVID-19 stories

Communicable Disease COVID-19

Thanks for joining us today on the The Medical Republic‘s live COVID-19 blog.

And thank you to our sponsor and supporter for funding this project with an independent grant, Boehringer Ingelheim.


The latest


2.55pm, 14 May

  • As Australia breathes the smallest sigh of relief and starts to loosen the COVID-19 restrictions, it’s hard to ignore the train-wreck that is the United States’ experience of COVID-19, particularly when it’s presented as starkly as it is in these images from the excellent data whizzes at Our World In Data:

2.40pm, 14 May

  • ICYMI late yesterday: the latest episode of The Medical Republic‘s podcast is now available; featuring your friendly podcast hosts Felicity Nelson and Francine Crimmins, TMR reporter Penny Durham – who’s got an interesting and disturbing tale about children getting strange complications from COVID-19 – and COVID-19 live-blogger Bianca Nogrady.

12.10pm, 14 May

  • Further to the BCG vaccine story below, Professor Nigel Curtis, head of infectious diseases at the Royal Children’s Hospital – who is leading the Australian trial of BCG vaccination – has commented on Twitter that whatever side-benefits the BCG vaccine might have for COVID-19 are not likely to be long-lasting, so the effects of long-distant childhood vaccination would not be expected to confer immunity to COVID-19 today.

11.50am, 14 May

  • BCG vaccination in childhood does not appear to be associated with a lower likelihood of contracting COVID-19, according to a retrospective cohort study published in JAMA.
    The study comes amid renewed interest in whether the BCG vaccine, which is thought to offer some protection against other infectious diseases as well as TB, might reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Australian researchers at the Murdoch Children Research Institute are currently conducting a randomised controlled trial of BCG vaccination.
    In Israel, all newborns born between 1955 to 1982 were administered the anti-tuberculosis vaccine, but after 1982, only immigrants from high-risk regions were vaccinated.
    Researchers compared the COVID-19 test results of 3064 people born in Israel between 1979 and 1981 – who would have received the BCG vaccine – and 2869 born after that point, who were considered likely to be unvaccinated, and found no statistically significant difference in the proportion of positive test results.
    There was only one case of severe disease in each group, which meant they couldn’t examine whether there was an effect on the risk of severe disease.
    They did stress that they weren’t able to determine if the second cohort were indeed all unvaccinated, but pointed out that immigrants from countries that routinely vaccinated against BCG only made up a small proportion of the control group.

11.20am, 14 May

  • The RACGP is looking at whether it can delay elections for president, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    According to newsGP, the college has sent a discussion paper to faculty council members proposing a temporary amendment to keep current president Dr Harry Nespolon in the chair until the 2021 Annual General Meeting.
    According to the article, the change would require at least 75% approval from all members, and is not an attempt to change existing election processes but rather ensure continuity of leadership during the pandemic.

10.30am, 14 May

  • Remember when US president Donald Trump suggested that putting disinfectant inside the body might be a treatment for COVID-19? Yeah, fun times. Except for some poor idiot (or should that be dummkopf) in Austria – not even the US – who took that advice and ran with it all the way to the emergency department.
  • The journal Histopathology features a case report of a 41-year-old woman who turned up at the emergency department vomiting blood after two days of vomiting and abdominal pain. After some questioning, it turned out she had been drinking 10 ml of ethanol-containing hand disinfectant every day for three weeks, because she was worried about being infected with COVID-19.
    Upper GI endoscopy revealed ‘acute corrosive injury’ to her oesophagus, mucosal redness in the stomach, and severely injured small intestinal mucosa that was weeping ‘fibrinous exudate’.
    “The presented case is the first documented case of a patient taking hand sanitizers per os over a period of several weeks, in order to prevent herself from infection with a global pandemic viral disease,” they reported, with an undercurrent of horror to their words.
    Happily, the woman’s symptoms eased after several days of not drinking hand sanitiser, and her internals had returned to normal state a week later.
    And just in case in needs repeating – which clearly it does, despite the epic global ridicule heaped on Trump’s dangerous brain-fart of a statement: “This treatment, even when considered by governmental authorities, has not only no proven anti-viral effect, it conversely implies major health risks.”

10am, 14 May

  • Here are today’s confirmed COVID-19 infections around Australia, to 9pm yesterday.
    National – 6975, with 98 deaths and 6271 recovered
    ACT – 107
    NSW – 3059
    NT – 29
    QLD – 1051
    SA – 439
    TAS – 227
    VIC – 1512
    WA – 551

 

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