Herewith three important items of Covid-19 news you may have missed this week: mounting evidence for aerosol transmission, the persistence of symptoms in children, and growing awareness of the mental health toll of the pandemic. Plus a frippery.
There is renewed talk, and new evidence, that the virus spreads by aerosols — tiny exhaled droplets that linger in the air — not just by larger droplets that quickly fall to the ground (say, within 6 feet). This article in Time by a University of Colorado aerosol expert got the ball rolling. Studies from China and the Netherlands offered new evidence of aerosol transmission; and finally another Chinese incident, involving two buses and a religious festival, laid out a reasonably clearcut case. It was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Kids can be long-haulers too
Last June we first noted the predicament of those Covid-19 sufferers whose symptoms hang on for months. In a recent episode of the podcast This Week in Virology, clinician Daniel Griffen expressed the growing consensus that long-haulers aren’t necessarily a rare minority; instead we should consider that Covid-19 has a tail for a significant number of sufferers.
A piece in Undark this week explores the long-haul experience of children who are still sick months after first contracting Covid-19. A number of clinicians still refuse to countenance the idea that adults’ experience of months-long, debilitating illness might have been caused by a now-cleared Covid-19 infection. In some cases the parents of long-hauler children have even more difficulty convincing pediatricians that their kids’ miseries are not all in their heads.
I’ll see your depression and raise you insomnia
How is our mental health faring amid a global pandemic and widespread isolation? Not all that well. One survey indicates that across the population signs of depression have tripled. Add to that the very real Covid fatigue clouding our judgement, and the increasing incidence of pandemic-triggered insomnia, which some experts are now reportedly calling coronasomnia.
Frippery: Uncle Roger
The pandemic news — and 2020! — can get oppressive, so I will try to end each Friday Update with something that took my mind off of all the troubles this week, however briefly. If you haven’t yet encountered the YouTube phenomenon of Uncle Roger, you are in for a treat: Uncle Roger DISGUSTED by this Egg Fried Rice Video (BBC Food).
[ Note added 2020-09-06: ] Today on TWiV (This Week in Virology), Dr. Daniel Griffin noted that a long Covid tail in children “is much less common” and the evidence is based on “a handful of reports.” Listen to 30 seconds or so starting here.
Later in this same episode of TWiV the experts discussed the evidence for aerosol transmission. Short form: they do not believe the evidence is there. Rich Condit summarized the common-sense belief (but for which there is not data as yet) that transmission drops off in some function of distance and droplet size — perhaps exponential. Listen to 7-1/2 minutes or so starting here.