Covid-19 has triggered a global health crisis courtesy its reach and rigour. Even as scientists fume their brains figuring out its characteristics, here’s a list of crucial studies on the pandemic and its myriad impacts in society
Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts have been an area of study for researchers around the world ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. While people in the healthcare sector have been trying to crack the code of the novel virus to find a cure for the deadly disease, researchers in the para-healthcare sector have been looking to find its associated impacts. The studies range from possible reasons for the infection to the illnesses that accompany Covid-19.
Here are seven of the most interesting Covid-related studies which could help us with the future course of our action.
Covid kills more men than women
This is just not a single study. Researches done in various parts of the world have found that men are at more risk to die from Covid-19 infection than women. There are several reasons for this — a weaker immune system, social behaviour, smoking habits and so on.
The data published by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says coronavirus has killed almost 17,000 more American men than women. Global Health 50/50, a UK-based initiative to advance gender equality in health care, has also found that 12 men have died for every 10 women in the United States.
The study says women generally have stronger immune systems because chromosomes are packed with immune-related genes.
Researchers at Yale University in the United States have also found that T-cell response is weaker in male patients. T-cells are responsible for detecting infected cells and killing them by directing the antibody response.
According to a study by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, Covid-infected men also experience molecular self-sabotage. This happens when the immune system fighters act against the body’s defence and inadvertently help the virus infect more areas.
The difference in behaviour and social norms is also responsible for causing more risk to men, the studies show. Women take a more cautious approach to the disease and follow the social-distancing rules, according to another study that included surveys and observations of pedestrians’ behaviour in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Women under more stress
A report published by the 4 Day Week campaign group and thinktanks Compass and Autonomy says women are disproportionately affected by a rise in mental health problems during the Covid crisis. It says women have more workload in lockdown compared to men as the length of the working day has increased steadily. Women now have to juggle work and childcare under more stress and for a longer period.
The study also says women are 43% more likely to have increased their hours beyond a standard working week than men. This figure jumps to 86% for women with children.
Ben-Gurion University in Israel has also said in a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research that mothers are experiencing an increase in insomnia and mild-to-high levels of acute Covid anxiety during lockdowns.
Children are superspreaders
The world’s largest contact tracing study held by Princeton Environmental Institute has found that children are the key spreaders of coronavirus. The study conducted in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh has also found that 70% of people with the virus do not pass it on to anyone.
Researchers who studied 5.75 lakh people who were exposed to 85,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases found that kids and young people are key in spreading the virus.
Transmission on flights
This is a conflicting topic as there have been studies in favour and against the spread of coronavirus on flights. While researchers have found that there is more risk of Covid infection on a plane, studies commissioned by flight operators have found that there is no threat if the social-distancing norms are followed on board.
Three studies published in September prove the likelihood of in-flight transmission. The findings were published in journals like Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. All three studies have found that the virus is transmitted through air droplets on a plane.
However, a US Department of Defence study released in October has found that only 0.003% of air particles within the breathing zone around a person are infectious, even when every seat on a plane is occupied. It added that about 99.99% of particles were filtered out of the cabin within six minutes due to fast air circulation, downward air ventilation, and the filtration systems on the aircraft.
The study concluded that a masked person would be infected only if they fly with an infectious co-passenger for 54 hours. The research was however led and funded by Transportation Command, which operates Patriot Express flights that use commercial planes like United’s for members of the military and their families.
Sleep apnea patients at greater risk
People diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are at a higher risk if infected by coronavirus, according to a new study by the University of Warwick. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition characterised by complete or partial blockage of the nasal airways during sleep when the muscles become relaxed. It is commonly diagnosed in people who snore or appear to stop breathing while sleeping.
The researchers say many of the risk factors associated with sleep apnea, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, are similar to those associated with Covid-19.
The report published in Sleep Medicine Reviews says patients who have diabetes, sleep apnea and are also hospitalised for Covid-19 are at 2.8 times greater risk of dying after being in intensive care for seven days.
Blood type O least vulnerable, A and AB at most risk
Two separate studies conducted to find why the virus is lethal for some patients have found that people with blood type A and AB are at more risk of the infection. However, people with blood type O are less likely to contract the virus. Both studies were published in the journal Blood Advances.
The studies were done by Odense University Hospital based on the data from Danish health registry, and the University of British Columbia.
Obesity fuels Covid-19 deaths
Widespread obesity is fuelling Covid-19 deaths, according to research conducted by Public Health England. The Global Burden of Disease study published in The Lancet says obese people are significantly more likely to be admitted to intensive care than those with a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI).
The study, which provides a comprehensive analysis of 286 different causes of death, 369 diseases and injuries, and 87 risk factors in 204 countries and territories, was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.