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עמוד בית
Mon, 15.04.24

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August 2020
Eli Jaffe PhD, Roman Sonkin B.EMS, Evan Avraham Alpert MD, Avi Magid PhD and Haim Y. Knobler MD

Background: The potential excess flow of patients into emergency departments and community clinics for testing and examination during a pandemic poses a major issue. These additional patients may lead to the risk of viral transmission to other patients and medical teams. To contain the spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), the Israeli Ministry of Health initiated a plan spearheaded by Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s national emergency medical services (EMS) organization.

Objectives: To describe outbreak containment actions initiated by MDA, including a COVID-19 tele-triage center and home testing by paramedics.

Methods: Retrospective analysis was conducted of de-identified data from the call management and command and control systems during the first period of the COVID-19 outbreak in Israel (23 February 2020–15 March 2020).

Results: During the study period, the total number of calls to the dispatch centers was 477,321 with a daily average of 21,696, compared to 6000–6500 during routine times. The total number of COVID-19 related calls was 334,230 (daily average 15,194). There were 28,454 calls (8.51% of all COVID-19 related calls, average 1293/day) transferred to the COVID-19 call center. Of the COVID-19 call center inquiries, 8390 resulted in the dispatch of a dedicated vehicle, including a paramedic wearing personal protective equipment, to collect samples for testing (daily average 381).

Conclusions: Maximizing EMS during a pandemic using phone triage, in addition to dispatching paramedics to perform home testing, may significantly distance infected patients from the public and health care system. These steps can further minimize the spread of disease.

Raanan Meyer MD, Gabriel Levin MD, Natav Hendin BSc and Eldad Katorza MD

Background: Channeling medical resources for coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) management can potentially endanger routine healthcare practices. As a preventive measure, a department of obstetrics and gynecology in Israel constructed a separate, designated complex for its COVID-19-exposed patients.

Objectives: To evaluate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic infection control measures on obstetric care in the obstetrical emergency department and delivery unit.

Methods: The authors collected data retrospectively from February 2020 to March 2020 and compared it to data of a parallel period in 2019.

Results: From 1 February 2020 to 28 March 2020, 3897 women were referred to the emergency department (ED), compared to 4067 the previous year. Mean duration of treatment until decision and referral indications did not differ between 2020 and 2019 (207 vs. 220 minutes, P = 0.26; urgent referrals 58.8% vs. 59.2%, P = 0.83). A per-week comparison showed a significant reduction in ED referrals only in the last week of the period (337 [2020] vs. 515 [2019], P < 0.001). The proportion of women admitted to the delivery unit in active labor was significantly higher in the last three weeks (39.1% vs. 28.2%, P = 0.005). During February and March 2020, 1666 women delivered, compared to 1654 during February and March 2019. The proportion of types and modes of delivery did not differ. In a per-week comparison, the number of deliveries did not differ (mean 208 vs. 206, P = 0.88).

Conclusions: With timely preparation and proper management, negative impact of COVID-19 can be reduced in obstetrical emergency departments.

Yoram Sandhaus MD, Talma Kushnir PhD and Shai Ashkenazi MD

Background: Social distancing, implemented to decrease the spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), forced major changes in medical practices, including an abrupt transition from face-to-face to remote patient care. Pre-clinical medical studies were concomitantly switched to electronic distance learning.

Objectives: To explore potential implications of COVID-19 on future pre-clinical medical studies.

Methods: We examined responses of pre-clinical medical students to the remote electronic learning in terms of quality of and satisfaction with teaching and technical support, attendance to classes, and the desire to continue electronic learning in the post-epidemic era. A survey of responses from first-year students at the Adelson School of Medicine was conducted. To optimize the reliability of the survey, a single research assistant conducted telephone interviews with each student, using a structured questionnaire concerning aspects of participation and satisfaction with teaching and with technical components of the remote electronic learning.

Results: With 100% response rate, the students reported high satisfaction with the electronic learning regarding its quality, online interactions, instructions given, technical assistance, and availability of recording for future studies. Most of the students (68.6%) noted a preference to continue < 90% of the learning online in the post-outbreak era. A high level of overall satisfaction and a low rate of technical problems during electronic learning were significantly correlated with the desire to continue online learning (P < 0.01).

Conclusions: The high satisfaction and the positive experience with the electronic distance learning imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic implied a successful transition and might induce future changes in pre-clinical medical studies.

Shani Dahan MD, Gad Segal MD, Itai Katz MD, Tamer Hellou MD, Michal Tietel MD, Gabriel Bryk MD, Howard Amital MD, Yehuda Shoenfeld MD FRCP MaACR and Amir Dagan MD

Background: Ferritin, the cellular protein storage for iron, has emerged as a key molecule in the immune system, orchestrating the cellular defense against inflammation. At the end of 2019, the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) rapidly spread throughout China and other countries around the world, resulting in a viral pandemic.

Objectives: To evaluate the correlation between ferritin and disease severity in coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we obtained clinical and laboratory data regarding 39 hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 from two hospitals in Israel.

Results: A significant increase in ferritin levels was demonstrated in patients with moderate and severe disease, compared to patients with mild disease (P = 0.006 and 0.005, respectively). Severe patients had significantly higher levels of ferritin (2817.6 ng/ml) than non-severe patients (708.6 ng/ml) P = 0.02.

Conclusions: In this preliminary cross-sectional study, elevated ferritin levels were shown to correlate with disease severity in 39 patients from Israel with confirmed COVID-19 infection. Our results further strengthen the hypothesis that severe COVID-19 disease might be due to an underlying dysregulated hyperimmune response. In order to identify these patients early and prioritized resources, we believe that all patients with COVID-19 should be screened for hyperferritinemia.

Máté Hidvégi PhD and Michele Nichelatti PhD

Background: The 2019 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic continued into 2020, and the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) associated death toll increased.

Objectives: To analyze COVID-19 death rates in European countries or regions to determine whether there was a significant association between bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination policy and lower rates of COVID-19 related deaths.

Methods: Certain Northern European countries or regions had low death rates regardless of BCG policy. The authors assumed the consumption of foods containing salmiak (NH4Cl) was a common and peculiar cause of the reduced COVID-19 related death rates in these countries, because NH4Cl is a known lysosomotropic agent, which has been indicated to inhibit or prevent SARS-CoV infection. To check the possible effectiveness of salmiak consumption against COVID-19 related death, the authors used a linear regression model with the death rate as the dependent variable and BCG-policy and salmiak consumption score as independent variables.

Results: Using least squares regression and a robust standard error algorithm, the authors found a significant effect exerted by the independent variables (P < 0.0005 for BCG and P = 0.001 for salmiak). Salmiak score alone was significant (P = 0.016) when using least squares regression with robust error algorithm. 

Conclusions: The results seem to confirm an association between BCG-positive vaccination policy and salmiak consumption, and lower death rates from COVID-19. Implementing BCG vaccination policy and fortification of foods with salmiak (NH4Cl) may have a significant impact on the control of SARS-CoV epidemic.

Shay Brikman MD, Amir Bieber MD and Guy Dori MD PhD

In this review we described the values of commonly available HScore laboratory markers in patients with coronavirus-19 (COVID-19)-pneumonia associated cytokine storm syndrome (CPN-CSS) and compared results with those of other forms cytokine storm syndrome (O-CSS) to determine a pattern for CPN-CSS. Twelve CPN-CSS studies and six O-CSS studies were included. CPN-CSS typically obtained a single HScore value (e.g., aspartate transaminase > 30 U/L) while failing all other HScore criteria. A typical pattern for CPN-CSS was revealed when compared to O-CSS: lymphopenia vs. pancytopenia and increased vs. decreased fibrinogen. Findings, other than HScore commonly found in CPN-CSS studies, showed elevated lactate dehydrogenase, D-dimer, and C-reactive protein. Although CPN-CSS studies describe severely ill patients, the HScore markers are typically less toxic that O-CSS

Piero Ruscitti MD PhD and Roberto Giacomelli MD PhD

A virally-induced cytokine storm syndrome, associated with a massive and overwhelming systemic inflammation, burdens a subgroup of patients with severe coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), which leads to pulmonary inflammation and extensive lung damage. These severe COVID-19 patients are characterized by high ferritin levels. These findings mirror what was previously reported about the prognostic role of this iron storage protein in other inflammatory diseases included in the hyperferritinemic syndrome. The latter suggests that ferritin could be a further pathogenic mediator in enhancing the inflammatory process, stimulating inflammatory pathways, and thus perpetuating a vicious pathogenic loop. Considering its activity as an immune activator, a therapeutic approach targeting ferritin may be also postulated in these diseases. Considering these observations, high ferritin levels characterize severe COVID-19 and other diseases included in the hyperferritinemic syndrome. Because ferritin could enhance the inflammatory process, it could be tested as a possible new therapeutic target to improve the outcome of these patients.

 

Noam Nissan MD PhD, Ariel Kerpel MD, Daniela Noa Zohar MD, David Orion MD, Sharon Amit MD PhD, Edith Michelle Marom MD and Eli Konen MD MHA
Yolanda Braun-Moscovici MD, Devy Zisman MD and Alexandra Balbir-Gurman MD
Ramzi Kurd MD, Michael Zuckerman MD and Eli Ben-Chetrit MD
July 2020
Paula David MD and Yehuda Shoenfeld MD FRCP MACR

There is a high prevalence of olfaction changes, especially in the early presentation, in COVID-19 patients. The mechanisms through which the virus leads to anosmia/hyposmia is still not fully understood. However, olfaction changes could be used as an indication for testing or quarantine. Screening for infections and other diseases by recognizing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has been previously conducted. Hence, if the coronavirus infection also results in VOCs excretion, physicians could “smell” the virus by using electronic noses. We conducted a literature review on olfaction changes and the COVID-19. Our results suggest that these changes could be used an indication for early testing, even as an isolated symptom. We propose that the electronic nose be used as a future screening tool, especially in agglomeration spaces such as airports, for screening for the COVID-19 infection

June 2020
Charlie Bridgewood PhD, Giovanni Damiani MD, Kassem Sharif MD, Abdulla Watad MD, Nicola Luigi Bragazzi MD PhD MPH, Luca Quartuccio MD, Sinisa Savic and Dennis McGonagle FRCPI PhD

In the absence of definitive anti-viral therapy, there is considerable interest in mitigating against severe inflammatory reactions in coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia to improve survival. These reactions are sometimes termed cytokine storm. PDE4 inhibitors (PDE4i) have anti-inflammatory properties with approved indications in inflammatory skin and joint diseases as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Furthermore, multiple animal models demonstrate strong anti-inflammatory effects of PDE4i in respiratory models of viral and bacterial infection and also after chemically mediated lung injury. The rationale for PDE4i use in COVID-19 patients comes from the multimodal mechanism of action with cytokine, chemokine, and other key pathway inhibition all achieved with an excellent safety profile. We highlight how PDE4i could be an overlooked treatment from the rheumatologic and respiratory armamentarium, which has potential beneficial immune-modulation for treating severe COVID-19 pneumonia associated with cytokine storms. The proposed use of PDE4i is also supported by age-related immune changes in inflammation severity in PDE4i modifiable pathways in primate coronavirus disease. In conclusion, over-exuberant anti-viral immune responses in older patients with COVID-19 may pose a substantial risk to patient survival and mitigation against such hyper-inflammation with PDE4i, especially with anti-viral agents, is a strategy that need to be pursed, especially in older patients

 

Oren Biham BMedSc, Aviya Kedmi BMedSc, Mohamad Abo Sbet MD and Lior Zeller MD
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