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COVID-19 appears to be linked to Tinnitus, Hearing Loss, and Vertigo: Study

(Asian News Hub) – Mounting evidence is showing that COVID-19 may have some link to tinnitus, hearing loss, and vertigo.

In a new study, published this week in the International Journal of Audiology, researchers at the University of Manchester and Manchester Biomedical Research Centre in the UK carried out a systematic review of dozens of studies investigating the link between COVID-19 and auditory symptoms. 

Among people who were infected with COVID-19, around 7.6 percent suffered from hearing loss and 14 percent experienced tinnitus, a persistent ringing or whooshing sound in the ears. A further 14.8 percent of people also reported vertigo, a dizzy sensation that everything is spinning around you. This sensation is usually caused by a problem with your inner ear, as this is the HQ of the vestibular system responsible for balance.

Odd case studies of such symptoms have been reported before, but few studies have taken a broad look at the scale of the problem.

“There is an urgent need for a carefully conducted clinical and diagnostic study to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the auditory system,” Kevin Munro, Professor of Audiology at The University of Manchester and Manchester BRC Hearing Health Lead, said in a statement.

Why COVID-19 affects the auditory system in this way remains unclear. It may be that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, is directly damaging the tissues involved in the auditory system. After all, it’s known that COVID-19 is much more than a simple respiratory disease and can lead to damage to many major organ systems, including the liver, kidney, heart, and even the brain. The auditory system, it seems, may be no different.


“It is also well-known that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause hearing loss; little is understood about the auditory effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” adds Munro. 

Alternatively, the researchers speculate on the idea that stress may have played a role in some of these complications. Writing in the Conversation, Professor Munro notes that tinnitus has a strong link with stress and anxiety. As plenty of studies have shown, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health in many parts of the world.

There’s also evidence to suggest that people who have caught COVID-19 are also at a heightened risk of anxiety, depression, or insomnia after recovery. 

While it’s clear there is some link between COVID-19 and damaging effects on the auditory system, the researchers stressed that the nature of this association remains unclear. Like many aspects of the unfolding pandemic, further research is needed before any sturdy conclusions are reached. 

“Though the evidence is of varying quality, more and more studies are being carried out so the evidence base is growing. What we really need are studies that compare COVID-19 cases with controls, such as patients admitted to hospital with other health conditions,” adds Ibrahim Almufarrij, PhD student and study author.

“Though caution needs to be taken, we hope this study will add to the weight of scientific evidence that there is a strong association between Covid-19 and hearing problems.”

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Serosurvey would determine impact of possible 3rd Covid wave on children: DAK

(Asian News Hub) – Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Saturday said serosurvey of pediatric population in the valley would determine the impact of possible third Covid-19 wave on children.

Serosurvey of children will give us a fair estimate of their vulnerability in predicted third wave,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

“Serosurvey involves testing blood samples of individuals for antibodies that are developed after an infection,” he said.

“This will give us an idea about the percentage of pediatric population who might have developed natural immunity.”

Dr Hassan said recently, a serosurvey of general population including children aged 7 to 17 years has been completed in Kashmir, the results of which are awaited.  The sample size per district in the age group 7 to 11 was 40 and it was 80 in 12-17 age group.

“The survey needs to be extended to the age group of 0 to 6 years and the sample size per district should be 500 to 1000 to get a clearer picture of the actual percentage of children who have developed immunity against Covid-19,” he said.

Dr Hassan said there are speculations that children would be affected more than adults in possible third wave as this is the population group in which there is no vaccine yet.

“However, various serosurveys have dismissed the claim that the next wave will be affecting children exclusively,” he said.

“A pediatric serological study conducted by AIIMS, New Delhi at five different sites found that 55.7 percent children had developed antibodies,” DAK President said.

“The study found that seroprevalence of children and adults in the same regions were almost similar.”

“Another study conducted by PGI Chandigarh revealed that 69 percent of children had antibodies against Covid-19,” he said.

“These children had remained either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic during the infection.”

“The data of the two surveys prove that children have acquired natural immunity against the virus and it is highly unlikely that the third wave will affect children more than adults,” said Dr Nisar.

“This is a big relief. Because the apprehensions expressed by several health experts about the third wave primarily targeting children had left people worried,” he said.

“But, we can’t derive conclusions on the data from other regions. We need to have our own data based on which decisions can be made ahead of the feared third wave,” he added.

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Israel reports Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against infection down to 40%

(Asian News Hub) – The Health Ministry said Thursday that the effectiveness of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in preventing infection and mild symptoms has dropped to 40%, according to new data collected over the past month as the delta variant spreads in Israel.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meanwhile called on Israelis who haven’t been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

“The Israeli government is investing billions so that there is a vaccine available in every location in the country, and there are still a million Israelis who simply refuse to be vaccinated,” he said. “The vaccine refusers are endangering their health, their surroundings and all Israeli citizens. If a million Israelis continue to be unvaccinated, this will force the others to shut themselves in at home.”

The effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing hospitalizations and severe symptoms stands at 88% and 91%, respectively, the ministry said.

With inputs from Haaretz

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Scientists discover more than 30 viruses frozen in ice, most never seen before

(Asian News Hub) – A group of scientists discovered ancient viruses frozen in two ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau in China, and most of them are unlike anything ever seen before.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Microbiome, came from ice cores taken in 2015 that scientists said began to freeze at least 14,400 years ago.

“These glaciers were formed gradually, and along with dust and gases, many, many viruses were also deposited in that ice,” Zhi-Ping Zhong, lead author and researcher at the Ohio State University Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, said in a statement. “The glaciers in western China are not well-studied, and our goal is to use this information to reflect past environments. And viruses are a part of those environments.”

When researchers analyzed the ice, they found genetic codes for 33 viruses. Of the 33, genetic codes for four of them showed they are part of virus families that typically infect bacteria. Up to 28 were novel, meaning they had never before been identified.

The group said it doesn’t believe the viruses originated from animals or humans but came from the soil or plants. The scientists said roughly half of them survived because of the ice.

“These are viruses that would have thrived in extreme environments,” said Matthew Sullivan, co-author of the study and director of Ohio State’s Center of Microbiome Science.

“These viruses have signatures of genes that help them infect cells in cold environments – just surreal genetic signatures for how a virus is able to survive in extreme conditions.”

Sullivan said the technology used to study microbes and viruses inside the ice would lead to looking for similar genetic sequences in other extreme ice environments, possibly on Mars.

Senior author of the study Lonnie Thompson said the discovery of the viruses in glaciers of ice will help researchers understand how they respond to climate change.

“We know very little about viruses and microbes in these extreme environments and what is actually there,” Thompson said. 

“The documentation and understanding of that is extremely important.”

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