BY ELIZABETH HANES, BSN, RN
Kissing. If you’re quarantining with your sweetie, there’s a lot more opportunity for it these days – but with COVID numbers rising, you may be wondering: Can I get COVID-19 from kissing (or even more intimate activity)?
The virus that causes COVID-19 travels in saliva, so, sure, swapping spit with an infected person could transfer the virus to you.
So, it’s probably a good idea not to go around kissing strangers right now.
But, if you’re kissing someone you live with, who is not showing any symptoms of illness, the risk is probably low, especially if you’re quite sure that neither of you has been exposed to the virus.
The coronavirus is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but the close, sustained contact of sexual activity makes it possible for the virus to move from one person to another. The virus is contained in saliva and in the invisible droplets of air a person exhales. When you’re kissing or having sex, then you’re at risk of getting the virus from directly contacting the other person’s saliva or inhaling the virus they’re exhaling with each breath.
But that’s assuming you’re kissing or having sex with someone who’s infected. If you and your live-in partner practice good COVID-19 hygiene by wearing face masks when you go out in public, maintaining social distancing of at least six feet from other people, and washing your hands frequently, then it’s safe to assume neither of you is infected – as long as neither of you is showing symptoms.
On the other hand, if you or your partner does show signs of illness, such as fever, chills, or coughing, then that person should self-isolate, and you should not kiss or have sex. This is true whether your partner is ill from COVID-19, influenza, or any other communicable disease. Nobody wants to pass an illness along to their sweetheart!
The World Health Organization on Monday was cautious about endorsing the use of recovered COVID-19 patients' plasma to treat those who are ill, saying evidence it works remains "low quality" even as the United States issued emergency authorization for such therapies.
So-called convalescent plasma, which has long been used to treat diseases, has emerged as the latest political flashpoint in the race to find therapies for COVID-19.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on Sunday authorized its use after President Donald Trump blamed the agency for impeding the roll-out of vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons.
The technique involves taking antibody-rich plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and giving it to those who are suffering from severe active infections in hopes they will recover more quickly.
Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, said only a few clinical trials of convalescent plasma have produced results, and the evidence, at least so far, has not been convincing enough to endorse it beyond use as an experimental therapy. While a few trials have showed some benefit, she said, they have been small and their data, so far, is inconclusive.
"At the moment, it's still very low-quality evidence," Swaminathan told a news conference. "So we recommend that convalescent plasma is still an experimental therapy, it should continue to be evaluated in well-designed randomized clinical trials." Evidence is conflicting: One Chinese study showed plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus failed to make a difference in hospitalized patients, while another pooled analysis showed it can lower the risk of death. One challenge, Swaminathan added, was plasma's variability, since it is drawn from many different people, producing a product that is less-standardized than monoclonal antibodies crafted in the lab.
WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward added that beyond plasma's efficacy, there were also potential safety risks that must be vetted. "There are a number of side effects," Aylward said, ranging from mild fevers to severe lung injuries or circulatory overload. "For that reason, the clinical trial results are extremely important." The U.S. National Institutes of Health this month announced it was giving several million dollars toward a mid-stage convalescent plasma trial.
Source: CBC News
A Hong Kong man who recovered from the COVID-19 illness caused by the coronavirus was infected again four-and-a-half months later in the first documented instance of human reinfection, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said on Monday.
The findings indicate the disease, which has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide, may continue to spread amongst the global population despite herd immunity, they said.
The 33-year-old man was cleared of COVID-19 and discharged from a hospital in April but tested positive again after returning from Spain via Britain on Aug. 15.
The patient had appeared to be previously healthy, researchers said in the paper, which was accepted by the international medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, which hasn't yet been published.
He was found to have contracted a different coronavirus strain from the one he had previously contracted and remained asymptomatic for the second infection.
"The finding does not mean taking vaccines will be useless," Dr. Kai-Wang To, one of the leading authors of the paper, told Reuters. "Immunity induced by vaccination can be different from those induced by natural infection."
Researchers will need to wait for the results of vaccine trials to see how well they work, he said.
World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said on Monday that there was no need to jump to any conclusions in response to the Hong Kong case.
Broader look needed"There's been more than 24 million cases reported to date," Van Kerkhove told a news conference in Geneva when asked about the matter. "We need to look at something like this on a population level."
For example, studies tracking larger numbers of cases over time are needed to better understand how strong and how long the neutralizing antibody response to the virus is in people who've recovered. The immune response also involves T cells that could also offer longer-lasting protection. (The immune response also involves a type of white blood cells called T cells that are designed to attack a virus the next time they encounter it for longer-lasting protection.)
Instances of people discharged from hospitals and testing positive again for COVID-19 infection have been reported in mainland China. However, in those cases it was not clear whether they had contracted the virus again after full recovery—- as happened to the Hong Kong patient — or still had the virus in their body from the initial infection.
The preliminary number of patients in China who tested positive again once being discharged from hospital was five per cent to 15 per cent, said Wang Guiqiang, an infectious diseases specialist in China's expert group for COVID-19 treatment, during a press briefing in May.
One explanation was that the virus still existed in the lungs of patients but was not detected in samples taken from upper parts of the respiratory tract, he said. Other possible causes were low sensitivity of tests and weak immunity that could lead to persistent positive results, he said.
Jeffrey Barrett, an expert and consultant with the COVID-19 Genome Project at Britain's Wellcome Sanger Institute, said in emailed comments to Reuters that it was very hard to make any strong inference from a single observation.
"Given the number of global infections to date, seeing one case of reinfection is not that surprising even if it is a very rare occurrence," he said.
To's team had stronger evidence of reinfection than some of the previous reports because it uses the genome sequence of the virus to separate the two infections, Barrett said in a comment to Science Media Centre
Source: CBC News