Decoded: Why coronavirus complications aggravate in people with chronic illnesses, senior citizens

The MicroRNAs that control body's genes activity latch onto and cut the RNA of invading viruses.

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The coronavirus is better able to hijack the host cell machinery to replicate as the attacking microRNA numbers reduce our ability to respond to viruses with age and some chronic medical conditions.
WASHINGTON: A group of tiny molecules that attack invading viruses is diminished with age and chronic illnesses, according to a study which says this decrease may explain why older individuals are vulnerable to COVID-19.

Researchers, including those from the University of Florida in the US, said microRNAs play a major role in controlling the activity of genes in the body, and are also on the front line when viruses enter cells.

The study, published in the journal Aging and Disease, noted that microRNAs latch onto and cut the RNA of invading viruses.


However, with age and some chronic medical conditions, the attacking microRNA numbers dwindle, reducing our ability to respond to viruses, said Carlos M. Isales, study co-author from Augusta University in the US.

The novel coronavirus is then better able to hijack the host cell machinery to replicate, the researchers said.

In the study, the scientists looked at the RNA sequence of two coronaviruses -- SARS, which surfaced in 2002, and SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 -- and the sequence of the microRNAs that appeared to be attacking the virus.
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The researchers used computer simulation to figure out how the viral RNAs would fit together with the microRNAs.

They tested the binding of the tiny molecules with four samples of SARS, and 29 samples of SARS-CoV-2, taken between January and April 2020 covering 17 countries including the US and Germany.

According to the study, 848 microRNAs could target the SARS genome, and 873 microRNAs targeted the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

The scientists said 558 of the microRNAs fighting SARS were also present in SARS-CoV-2, while 315 microRNAs were unique to SARS-CoV-2, and 290 were unique to SARS.
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Coronavirus Can Get Children Worried: Here's How To Have The Talk
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In the wake of coronavirus, several schools and colleges have been shut in many parts of the world to contain the spread of COVID-19. As public awareness and conversations around the novel virus increase, the situation can get the children anxious and worried for their family members and friends.



Parents, family members, teachers, healthcare professionals and trusted adults play a significant role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate and minimise their fear or anxiety.



Dr Sreenath Manikanti, Senior Consultant Neonatologist & HOD Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore shares a few tips to help make the corona conversation easier around children.

In the wake of coronavirus, several schools and colleges have been shut in many parts of the world to contain the spread of COVID-19. As public awareness and conversations around the novel virus incr..
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- Remember that children react to how and what things are said

- Children pick up cues from conversations you have with them and others

- Patiently listen to what they say, and allow them to ask questions

- Avoid using words that might blame others and lead to stigma

- Remember that the virus can make anyone sick. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19

- Pay attention to what children see, hear or read on television, radio or online

- Reduce the amount of screen time for children focused on COVID-19. Too much information on any one topic can lead to anxiety and worry

- Provide information to kids that is honest and accurate. Give information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child

- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the internet and social media may be based on rumours and inaccurate information

- Teach chilren everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs

- Stay calm and keep information simple

- Reassure children that health and school authorities are working very hard to keep everyone safe and healthy

- Teach dos and don'ts at home, schools and play areas
- Remember that children react to how and what things are said - Children pick up cues from conversations you have with them and others - Patiently listen to what they say, and allow them to ask qu..
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- Stay 6 feet away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick

- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and then throw the tissue into a closed bin

- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing, after using restroom, and before eating or learning to prepare food

- If soap and water are not available, teach children to use hand sanitiser
- Stay 6 feet away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick - Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and then throw the tissue into a closed bin - Wash hands with soap and water for a..
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- Avoid touching mouth, nose, eyes and face with unclean hands

- Avoid coughing or sneezing into hands

- Avoid crowded places

- Avoid touching surfaces in public places and play areas unnecessarily
- Avoid touching mouth, nose, eyes and face with unclean hands - Avoid coughing or sneezing into hands - Avoid crowded places - Avoid touching surfaces in public places and play areas unnecessaril..
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What is COVID-19?

- COVID-19 is the short name for 'coronavirus disease 2019'

- It is a new virus. Doctors are still learning more about it

- Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick

- Doctors and scientists think that most people will be alright, especially kids, but some people might get very sick

- Doctors and experts are working hard to help people stay healthy
What is COVID-19? - COVID-19 is the short name for 'coronavirus disease 2019' - It is a new virus. Doctors are still learning more about it - Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick - ..
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- Practice healthy habits at home, school and play to help protect against the spread of COVID-19

- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it in the dustbin right away

- Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose and eyes. This will help keep germs out of your body

- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have soap and water, use hand sanitiser to clean the germs

- Keep things clean and hygienic

- If you have cough & fever, stay home. Just like you don’t want to get other people’s germs in your body, other people don’t want to get your germs either

- If you are old enough, you can help adults at home and school clean the things we touch the most like desks, doorknobs, light switches and remote controls
- Practice healthy habits at home, school and play to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 - Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it in the..
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- COVID-19 can look different in different people. From what doctors have seen so far, most kids don’t seem to get very sick

- Being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. Children may get a fever, cough or have a hard time taking deep breaths

- Most people who have contracted COVID-19 don't get very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems

- If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, call Government of India helpline +91-11-23978046 or contact nearest healthcare facility to let them know before you bring your child in to see them
- COVID-19 can look different in different people. From what doctors have seen so far, most kids don’t seem to get very sick - Being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. Chi..
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MicroRNAs most proficient at attacking SARS-CoV-2 showed more than 10 target sites, they said.

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These may ultimately be found to be the most proficient at fighting the virus, the researchers said.

They also found the microRNAs targeting SARS-CoV-2 were associated with more than 72 biological processes -- from the production of molecules to the immune response.

Many of these tiny RNA molecules are known to become diminished in number with age and with underlying medical conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the scientists said.

The study noted that low numbers of the microRNAs are a factor in the increased disease presentation and death rates seen in such risk prone individuals.

Citing an example, the researchers said microRNAs like miR-15b-5p, which has a high affinity for SARS-CoV-2, is produced less in people with coronary artery disease.

In healthy, younger people, these are more apt to do as they should and prevent replication, said study co-author Sadanand Fulzele from Augusta University.

Of the 29 worldwide samples of SARS-CoV-2, the study said 19 had identical microRNAs, indicating that the virus has a fairly uniform presence internationally.

Based on this, the researchers believe that any effective treatment or vaccine should have a broad impact on the disease.

"My perspective is there is a key set of microRNAs that are important in triggering this abnormal response, in making older patients more susceptible," said study senior author Carlos Isales from Augusta University.

"We are looking at microRNAs in general dropping, but there is a specific subset that is key. The question is whether we can we target those as a therapy," Isales said.

The scientists believe that a novel treatment approach where cocktails of multiple key microRNA, potentially given through the nose, may help restore sufficient levels of the key virus fighters.

They also hope to understand from further studies if younger people, who also are seriously sickened by SARS-CoV-2 infection, already don't make sufficient numbers of some of the key protective microRNA.

Bust The Myth Bubble: Sesame Oil, Alcohol Sprays Can't Prevent Coronavirus
1/11
A lot of what you hear or read about the coronavirus may be myths. WHO data busts a few common misconceptions.
A lot of what you hear or read about the coronavirus may be myths. WHO data busts a few common misconceptions.
Myth: Pneumonia vaccines will protect you against coronavirus.

Reality: Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts. However, while they are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
Myth: Pneumonia vaccines will protect you against coronavirus. Reality: Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protec..
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Myth: Ultraviolet disinfection lamp can kill the coronavirus.

Reality: UV lamps should not be used to sterilise hands or other areas of skin. Far from killing the virus, the UV radiation can actually cause skin irritation.
Myth: Ultraviolet disinfection lamp can kill the coronavirus. Reality: UV lamps should not be used to sterilise hands or other areas of skin. Far from killing the virus, the UV radiation can actuall..
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Myth: Thermal scanners can help detect infected people.

Reality: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever due to the coronavirus infection. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with the fever. This is because it takes between two and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.
Myth: Thermal scanners can help detect infected people. Reality: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever due to the coronavirus infection. However, they cannot ..
Read More
Myth: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over the body kill the coronavirus.

Reality: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. In fact, spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (ie eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be used to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.
Myth: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over the body kill the coronavirus. Reality: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. In fact..
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Myth: Putting on sesame oil will block the coronavirus from entering the body.

Reality: Sesame oil does not kill coronavirus. There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on surfaces. These include bleach or chlorine-based disinfectants, solvents, 75 per cent ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform. However, they have little or no impact on the virus if you put them on the skin or under your nose. It can even be dangerous to put these chemicals on your skin.
Myth: Putting on sesame oil will block the coronavirus from entering the body. Reality: Sesame oil does not kill coronavirus. There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on sur..
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Myth: Coronavirus mainly affects older people.

Reality: People of all ages can be infected by the 2019-nCoV. Older people, and people with preexisting medical conditions [such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease] appear to be more vulnerable. But WHO has advised people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus.
Myth: Coronavirus mainly affects older people. Reality: People of all ages can be infected by the 2019-nCoV. Older people, and people with preexisting medical conditions [such as asthma, diabetes, h..
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Myth: Rinsing your nose with saline will help prevent coronavirus infection.

Reality: There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from a coronavirus infection. But there is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from a common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.
Myth: Rinsing your nose with saline will help prevent coronavirus infection. Reality: There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from a coronavirus infecti..
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Myth: It’s not safe to receive letters or packages from China.

Reality: It is safe to receive letters and packages from China. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters or packages.
Myth: It’s not safe to receive letters or packages from China. Reality: It is safe to receive letters and packages from China. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the..
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Myth: Pets at home can spread the coronavirus

Reality: At present, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with these pets. This will protect you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.
Myth: Pets at home can spread the coronavirus Reality: At present, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the coronavirus. However, it is alway..
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