Category Archives: Science

“Noch haben wir – u.a. durch ein gut aufgestelltes Gesundheitssystem – einen Vorsprung, den man aber nicht verspielen darf.”

NRD Info: Podcast: Das Coronavirus-Update mit Christian Drosten.

Seit 26.02.2020 erscheint täglich eine Folge von ca. 30min Dauer. Alternative für Leute, die lieber lesen: Coronavirus-Update – Die Podcast-Folgen als Skript.

“Sars-CoV-2, das neue Coronavirus, hat sich zuerst in China ausgebreitet und ist nun Tag für Tag in den Schlagzeilen. Doch wie können wir so viele Menschen wie möglich so fundiert wie möglich informieren – ohne dabei unnötige Panik zu verbreiten? NDR Info Wissenschaftsredakteurin Korinna Hennig spricht jeden Tag mit einem der führenden Virus-Forscher Deutschlands: Christian Drosten, dem Leiter der Virologie in der Berliner Charité.

Welche Spur verfolgt die Forschung aktuell? Welche neuen Erkenntnisse gibt es zu Ansteckung und Krankheitsverlauf? Ist die Aufregung um das neue Virus überhaupt angemessen? Und: Wie ergeht es den Forschern persönlich in diesen Tagen?”

“Better safe than sorry.”

The New York Times Opinion: Coronavirus School Closings: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late. “History teaches us that keeping children at home early in an outbreak can save lives.” By Howard Markel. “Dr. Markel studies the history of pandemics. … [He] is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a professor of pediatrics.”

“Schools are community gathering places where large numbers of people are in proximity to one another and respiratory infections can easily spread among young people and adults alike. Shutting them down can be a key part of slowing the spread of easily transmissible viruses so that hospitals are not overrun with sick people, and it can help to buy time to allow for the development of antiviral medications, medical treatments or a vaccine.

But policymakers working to stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 should remember a key part of this historically informed equation: We can’t wait until it’s too late.

Communities in the United States must shut down schools before, not after, the outbreak becomes widespread here. “Widespread” is admittedly an imprecise term, but I use it to describe a situation in which there are multiple cases throughout a town or state and more cases with each passing day.”

Link via MetaFilter.

Zinc can shorten a common cold.

NPR Health: Taking Zinc Can Shorten Your Cold. Thank A 91-Year-Old Scientist For The Discovery. “The common cold is a top reason for missed work and school days. Most of us have two or three colds per year, each lasting at least a week.

There’s no real cure, but studies from the last several years show that some supplement containing zinc can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms by up to 40% — depending on the amount of the mineral in each dose and what it’s combined with.”

“Most recently, a meta-analysis published in 2017 by Harri Hemilä at the University of Helsinki concludes that 80 to 92 milligrams per day of zinc, given at the onset of cold symptoms, reduced duration of the common cold by 33%.

The study finds that two different zinc compounds — zinc acetate and zinc gluconate — are both effective. And there’s no evidence, the researchers say, that increasing those doses of zinc (to 100 milligrams per day or more) leads to any greater efficacy.

Great news. Nonetheless, “it’s quite difficult to instruct patients,” says Hemilä, the author of the meta-analysis. That’s because zinc cold formulations sold at drugstores often contain multiple ingredients that can undercut the zinc’s effectiveness. For instance, the lozenges “should not contain citric acid,” Hemilä says, because it binds with the zinc in a way that keeps the mineral from being released. In addition, he says, the mechanism of action is not well understood, so scientists can’t say exactly how it works.

The lozenge used in the Michigan study is not available commercially, Fitzgerald notes. “It was especially designed for the study.””

Well, I have a cold right now (the third since November!), but as far as I can tell, there is not a single zinc supplement available here in Germany that contains the right amount of zinc in the right compound (acetate or gluconate). Many capsules also contain citric acid, which the study says binds the zinc.

I guess it’s back to lots of fluids and plenty of sleep for me. Achoo!