COVID-19 Scan for May 08, 2020

COVID-19-positive semen tests
Coronavirus and seasonality
Household COVID-19 spread

Study: Evidence of COVID-19 virus found in 16% of semen samples

A study yesterday in JAMA Network Open is the first to demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is detectable in the semen of recovered and actively infected men, but it does not prove that the virus can be sexually transmitted.

"If it could be proved that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually in future studies, sexual transmission might be a critical part of the prevention of transmission, especially considering the fact that SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the semen of recovering patients," the authors write.

The study was based on 38 semen samples collected from China in a small cohort study of male patients who currently had or recovered from COVID-19. Of the 38 participants who provided a semen specimen, 23 participants (60.5%) had achieved clinical recovery and 15 participants (39.5%) were at the acute stage of infection.

The semen of 6 patients (15.8%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 via polymerase chain reaction, including 4 of 15 patients (26.7%) who were at the acute stage of infection and 2 of 23 patients (8.7%) who were recovering. There were no clinical difference in patients' ages, days since symptom onset, days since recovery, or urogenital disease. The tests do not detect the presence of infectious virus.
May 7 JAMA Netw Open study


Temperature, humidity, latitude not tied to COVID-19 growth

Public health measures like school closures and mass gathering restrictions were found to have a far greater impact on slowing the spread of the coronavirus than temperature, latitude, and humidity, Canadian and Swiss scientists reported today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

To measure whether the epidemic growth of the coronavirus, as with influenza, is slowed by higher temperatures and higher humidity, which are associated with geographic latitude, the researchers performed a prospective cohort study of all 144 countries with at least 10 COVID-19 cases and local transmission by Mar 10. China, Italy, South Korea, and Iran were excluded from the analysis.

The investigators collected latitude, mean temperature, and mean relative humidity for the capital of each country, during an exposure period of 7 days (Mar 7 to Mar 13). They also collected data on school closures, restrictions of mass gatherings, and measures of social (physical) distancing. They then compared cumulative counts of COVID-19 in the 144 countries on Mar 27 with cumulative counts on Mar 20. Epidemic growth from Mar 20 to Mar 27 was expressed as ratios of rate ratios (RRR).

In a univariate analyses, there was no association between epidemic growth and latitude (RRR per 400 degrees2 increase 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.96 to 1.03, P = 0.72) or mean temperature (RRR per 5°C increase, 0.97: 95% CI, 0.93 to 1.02). But there was a negative association with relative humidity (RRR per 10% increase 0.91, 95% CI 0.85 to 0.96) and with absolute humidity (RRR per 5 g/m3 increase 0.92; 95% CI, 0.85 to 0.99). Much stronger negative associations were found for restrictions of mass gatherings (RRR 0.65; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.79), school closures (RRR 0.63; 95% CI, 0.52 to 0.78), and measures of social distancing (RRR 0.62; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.85).

A multivariable model found a strong association with the number of implemented public health interventions (P for trend = 0.001), whereas the association with absolute humidity was no longer significant.

"Taken together, these findings suggest that seasonality is likely to play only a minor role in the epidemiology of COVID-19, while public health interventions (school closures, restricting mass gatherings, social distancing) appear to have a major impact," the authors write. "The important effect of public health interventions needs to be weighed carefully against potential economic and psychosocial harms when deciding when and how to lift restrictions."
May 8 Can Med Assoc J study


Early New York state coronavirus cases concentrated in households

A new analysis of COVID-19 cases in New York state outside of New York City in the early part of the outbreak found high levels of infections in households, a team of New York researchers reported today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

During March, officials confirmed 47,326 cases outside of New York City, which reflected a 33% test-positive rate. The highest number of cases were in the metro region counties.

When the authors tracked 229 initial cases, people who were diagnosed through Mar 12, they found that 13% were hospitalized and 2% died. Testing among 498 people in initial patients' households revealed that 57% were positive for COVID-19—excluding the initial patients in each household, 38% were positive.

Looking at the household cases by age, the investigators found significant differences. The positivity rate was lower (23%) in children younger than 5 and higher (68%) in people age 65 and older. They concluded that New York state's COVID-19 burden was substantial and increased in March, with its earliest cases marked by high levels of infections in households that came with high risks of hospitalization and deaths.
May 8 Clin Infect Dis abstract

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