COVID News Digest - August 2021
We are compiling stories from credible sources representing all regions of the world, including academic articles, position statements and mainstream news, amongst others.
Success and Failures of Telehealth during COVID-19 Should Inform Digital Applications to Combat Obesity - Wiley
Telehealth digital applications (apps) have increasingly been used during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating safe access to health care for millions of people, this is particularly important for those with poor access to health services. Telehealth and mobile health (mHealth) apps can also promote clinically meaningful weight loss care for individuals with obesity. These apps have the potential to greatly improve health outcomes, particularly in the poorest communities where the medical and social cost of obesity is highest. However, these apps currently service predominantly privileged communities, and failure to address the barriers to telehealth services could exacerbate disparities in access to care.
Covid-19: Fears over sharp rise in diabetes in India - BBC
Steroids have been used to reduce the inflammation in the lungs of COVID-19 patients, however these steroids can also reduce immunity and raise blood sugar levels in both diabetic and non-diabetic COVID-19 patients. Diabetes, and obesity, among other diseases put people at increased risk of suffering worse outcomes of COVID-19. With nearly 32 million recorded infections, India has the second-largest Covid-19 caseload in the world, behind the US. India is home to an estimated 77 million diabetics. It is feared that a large number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are at risk of newly diagnosed diabetes. For those recovering from mucormycosis or the "black fungus" it is reported that 10% had new onset diabetes. What is yet to be established is whether this ‘new onset’ diabetes is likely to be permanent.
Pediatric BMI changes during COVID-19 pandemic: An electronic health record-based retrospective cohort study - The Lancet
Children's rate of unhealthy weight gain increased notably during the COVID-19 pandemic across demographic groups, and most prominently in children already vulnerable to unhealthy weight gain. This is likely, in part, a result of the pandemic related lifestyle changes, including decreased physical activity, changes in diet composition, and increased indoor sedentary behaviours. The gap widened between those who were, and those who were not, already vulnerable to excess weight gain. Children without commercial insurance, who had pre-existing obesity, and who were Black or Hispanic had the highest rate of BMI before the pandemic and also suffered the biggest increase over pre-pandemic rates. This highlights important public health disparities as a part of the pandemic.
Poverty, disease, customs: why so many Indonesian children die of COVID - New York Times
In Indonesia children have alarming mortality rates due to COVID-19, with a significant increase since June, when the delta variant became prevalent. COVID-19 has killed at least 1,245 Indonesian children and the biggest recent jump has been among those younger than 1, said Dr Aman Bhakti Pulungan, head of the Indonesian Pediatric Society. The paediatric society’s figures suggest that in Indonesia, about 1 of every 88 officially counted deaths has been that of a child. The accurate rate is not discernible as testing is limited and many deaths have gone uncounted as being attributable to COVID-19. In the US and Europe people younger than 18 have accounted for about 1 of every 1,500 reported COVID-19 deaths. The death toll in less developed countries has been found to be much higher amongst children. There are a multitude of reasons why the death toll is higher for children in developing countries but many of these relate to poverty. Children living in poverty tend to have more underlying conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and malnutrition that can multiply the risks of COVID-19.
COVID-19 and Obesity: Role of Ectopic Visceral and Epicardial Adipose Tissues in Myocardial Injury Frontiers in Endocrinology
Obesity is a major risk factor for COVID-19. Identifying patients with obesity who are at high risk of ICU need is crucial. Multiple studies have demonstrated that ectopic fat accumulation, especially epicardial adipose tissue (EAT), is a major driver of COVID-19 severity in such patients. This unique potentially inflamed EAT depot may play a direct role in COVID-19 cardiac injury, acting as a fuel through its specific anatomical contact with the myocardium and its inflammatory status. Large studies with systematic evaluation of EAT volume and CT scan attenuation together with evaluation of pulmonary involvement are needed. Deep learning algorithms leading to new fully automated three-dimensional methods for the measurement of EAT will help improve clinical risk stratification.
Vaccine uptake or obesity? Surging child Covid hospitalisations in the US leave experts stumped - The Telegraph
Dr Lee Savio Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics has written to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging it to work “aggressively” toward authorising Covid-19 vaccine for children as young as five to 11 (available to those over 12 in the US). The rate of US pediatric hospital admissions is now 3.75 times higher than it was a month ago and is equal to its highest point since January. In the UK the picture is very different, despite the country seeing a similar surge in delta cases. There has only been a modest increase in hospital admissions for children and they are therefore not pushing for changes to the vaccine policy. One factor that may explain the US rates is lower vaccine coverage in some communities where the delta variant is prevalent. This in addition to the incidence of comorbidities, including obesity, in the communities being hit may explain rising US admissions among children.