Diagnosis of cancer one year before infection is not associated with worse outcomes; air travel carries COVID risks

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that deserves further study to corroborate the findings and that has not yet been certified by peer review.

Previous cancer diagnosis not linked to worse COVID-19 outcomes

According to a new study, patients diagnosed with cancer more than a year before contracting COVID-19 and those not receiving active treatment may be no more vulnerable to worse COVID outcomes than those without cancer.

“We found that recent cancer diagnoses were associated with a 17% increased risk of death and a 10% increased risk of hospitalization,” Youngran Kim of UT Health Houston said in a statement. “However, a history of cancer more than a year before COVID-19 diagnosis was not significantly associated with increased mortality or hospitalization.”

Using electronic health records, Kim’s team studied 271,639 American adults diagnosed with COVID-19 between June and December 2020, including more than 10,000 who had been diagnosed with cancer during the past year and about 8,000 who were diagnosed with cancer more than a year earlier. . As reported in PLOS One https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0267584, recent cancer diagnoses were associated with higher risks of worse COVID-19 outcomes, especially in people with metastatic disease or cancers of the blood, liver or lungs. A higher risk of death was also linked to chemotherapy or radiotherapy in the three months before SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study found other disparities among newly diagnosed cancer patients. In particular, those who were older, black, receiving Medicare, and/or lived in the southern United States were significantly more likely to die after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Researchers warn of transmission risk from air travel

Passengers are still at risk of coronavirus infection when traveling on planes and also at airports, the researchers warned.

Two passengers taking a 10-hour flight from Dubai to Australia in July 2020 infected 15 others, despite masking requirements for travellers, the operation of air purifiers and the use of masks, goggles, protective gloves and gowns by the flight crew, according to a report in the Journal of Travel Medicine https://bit.ly/3M0NxIg. Sitting within two rows of a primary case increased the risk of infection more than sevenfold, and spending more than an hour at the airport of arrival nearly increased it fivefold, the study found. . Seven of those who caught the virus were seated within 2 rows of “index cases” in the economy section, but the others were seated far away, including some who were seated in business class. At the time, all passengers entering Australia were required to undergo hotel quarantine and provide blood samples for COVID-19 testing. According to the report, the virus particles from the two initially infected travelers and the 15 newly infected passengers had indistinguishable genomic sequences.

“Conscientiously wearing a mask while traveling reduces the risk of contracting an infection,” especially for passengers seated nearby, the researchers said. “With the emergence of more transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2…it is crucial to understand and mitigate potential risk exposures associated with all stages of air travel.”

Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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