Hearing that the number of UAE residents that have recovered from Covid-19 is rising provides a glimmer of hope in the fight against coronavirus. With global headlines saturated with new infections, rising death tolls, border closures and quarantine enforcements, we all need a little positive pick me up. We have rounded up some real nuggets of optimism that are surfacing about the crisis, so don’t give up hope.
Centenarians are surviving Covid-19
Two 103-year-old women have now made a full recovery, including a Chinese grandmother who was treated for six days in Wuhan, China and, more recently, a woman in Iran who was hospitalized for a week but has now been discharged after testing negative. A 91-year-old man in Iran has also survived the virus.
Fatality rates are lower than previously thought
The new figure stands at 1.4 percent chance of death among those who have symptoms of the disease, compared with earlier estimates of 2, 3 and even reports of 4 percent from Wuhan, China. Joseph Wu and Kathy Leung, infectious disease experts at the University of Hong Kong, have submitted a paper with the new findings, which are no longer based on ‘worst case scenarios’ as in previous estimates. The new study also found the chance of younger people becoming seriously ill from coronavirus infection to be so low that the scientists estimate a fatality rate of zero.
China closed its last ‘coronavirus hospital’
At the beginning of February, China built 14 emergency hospitals, including two in Wuhan to provide thousands of extra beds for the sick. Now they are no longer needed due to the rapid fall in new cases of Covid-19. Staff at one of the hospitals ceremoniously removed their masks one-by-one for a video that has been viewed by millions online. And in another sign of recovery, Apple has reopened its stores in China.
The UK is “very close” to an immunity test
A test which shows people who have had the coronavirus and now have the antibodies to fight it is almost ready. This is a big step for health facilities in the battle against Covid-19. The test will indicate hospital staff who have immunity against the virus and therefore have a sizable impact on the number of patients who can or need to be treated. It’s also a game-changer in terms of understanding the coronavirus, making it possible for the first time to collect data about those who have had Covid-19 and showed no symptoms.
Doctors in India cure a patient
Using a combination of HIV, swine flu and malaria drugs, doctors at Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital in Jaipur, India treated an Italian woman, who was one of a group of 23 tourists visiting the state of Rajasthan. Following two weeks of treatment of a combination of Lopinavir, Retonovir, Oseltamivir and Chlorphenamine, she has tested negative for Covid-19. Variations of this combination are now being tested globally.
Germans are close to a vaccine that can be mass produced
German biopharmaceutical company CureVac has been granted up to $8.3 million by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to accelerate work on it’s ‘low-dose’ technology, which uses low dosage immunization so it can cater for more people (some people may need a double dose). Trial candidates have been selected and the vaccine could be ready as soon as July. The company has the capability to produce 10 million doses every few weeks.
Spanish scientists are trialling drugs to slow infection rates
Around 200 patients being treated for coronavirus and 3,000 of their close contacts will take part in a trial to see if administering the contacts with hydroxychloroquine (a drug used for malaria and rheumatoid conditions) will slow down how quickly Covid-19 can reproduce. Patients with coronavirus can infect between 5 percent and 15 percent of the people they come into contact with during the 14 days after starting to show symptoms. The trial’s goal is to reduce that number below 14 days and also to reduce the percentage of contacts infected. Results are expected in three weeks time, with lab experiments that have already proven successful so there are high hopes for the human trials.
Oxford scientists develop speedy test
Researchers from the University of Oxford say this new test works three times faster than any previous tests and could even help detect patients affected by coronavirus in earlier stages of the infection. The results can be “read by the naked eye” and the test requires relatively simple equipment which makes it more accessible to a broader range of healthcare professionals and facilities. When the new tests were used on a small clinical sample of the virus at Shenzhen Luohou People’s Hospital in China, they demonstrated a 100 percent success rate.
China finds recovered patients can help the infected
In the absence of a vaccine, doctors in China are using plasma harvested from the blood of Covid-19 survivors to treat new coronavirus patients, with some positive results when the method is applied early in the disease. Scientists in Baltimore have now applied for approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to harvest virus-fighting antibodies from the blood of previously infected patients in the US, which could lead to global usage of the practice that dates back over a century.
Dutch researchers in Holland find antibody
A team of ten scientific researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and Utrecht University say they have discovered an antibody capable of fending off an infection by Covid-19. The antibody “neutralises” the virus and “offers the potential to prevent and/or treat Covid-19 and possibly also other future emerging diseases in humans caused by viruses from the Sarbecovirus subgenus.” Their article is undergoing peer review by other researchers and they are already in talks with pharmaceutical companies to produce the medicine.
Tom Hanks is out of hospital
The actor and his wife Rita Wilson are now in self-isolation in Australia and doing their best to keep us all entertained. From Tom’s Vegemite debate (how much is too much?) to his picture of the ‘Corona’ typewriter he took with him to Australia, he’s reminding us all that we still need to smile. And he’s right: at times like this, we all need to think of our mental health as well as our physical wellbeing and we need to not only think of our own safety but the safety of everyone around us. This isn’t an individual fight — this is a fight for and involving all of humanity.
Devinder Bains is journalist of 20 years, working as a writer and editor on some of the biggest national magazines, newspapers and online publications in the UK and the Middle East. She specialises in women’s empowerment, fashion, race, culture and travel, and as a qualified personal trainer and nutrition coach, she is an expert in health and fitness. She splits her time between freelance writing and running Fit Squad DXB – Dubai’s largest personal training and wellness company.