Is it COVID-19 Diagnostic Test or Antibody Test?

Introduction

Battling with COVID-19 is unique experience for each of us. Understanding the two different COVID-19 tests can help us generate wiser decisions in particular with our health care needs. This means that you must know the available testing options for COVID-19.

There are two different types of COVID-19 Test – Diagnostic Test and Antibody Test. The Diagnostic Test indicates the presence of an active COVID-19 infection and require strict isolation or quarantine measures. On the other hand, the Antibody Test detects for antibodies produced by the body’s immune system in the presence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for COVID-19.

Diagnostic Tests

Do you want to test if you are infected by the COVID-19 virus? Use the diagnostic test.

Two ways to specify an active COVID-19 infection are by means of the molecular RT-PCR tests and the antigen tests. Samples from the diagnostic tests are collected by nasal or throat swab, and saliva, whereas samples from the antibody tests are extracted from the blood. Both samples are taken by a health care provider, usually a medical technologist or a registered nurse. 

Molecular Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test, also known as the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), is a diagnostic test for COVID-19 that spots the genetic material of the virus. The tests are usually done by nasopharyngeal swab – a technique that collects the sample from the posterior part of the nose up to where the swab reaches the throat. Saliva tests are also now accepted by some countries and institutions. However, from the medical community point of view, especially if the patient is scheduled for a certain procedure, the specialized areas such as operating rooms, endoscopies, cardiac cathlabs, among others, still require a nasopharyngeal swab test, as believed that samples directly from the nasopharynx can collect higher viral concentrations, thus a more accurate result. The presence of genetic material of the virus points a positive result while a negative result means traces of virus are nowhere to be found. Results of the tests come out in an average of 12 hours to 3 days, depending on whether the test will be done onsite or samples are to be sent to another accredited institution. Because of its typically high accurate results, it is the recommended COVID-19 test by the government authorities, and an official requirement for domestic transportations and international flights. As of now, this RT-PCR test is the gold standard of COVID-19 testing due to its high sensitivity of detecting the RNA strand accountable for the viral nucleic acid formation. 

Antigen tests, also known as rapid tests, are COVID-19 diagnostic tests that checks for a presence of an antigen. Antigens are any foreign element, material or substance that activates the immune response to fight against it. Antigen tests are immunoassays that identify the existence of a specific viral antigen, which suggests a recent viral infection. It is commonly called a rapid test because it has a quicker turn-around time, approximately 15-30 minutes, as compared to the standard molecular RT-PCR test. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) already acclaimed to delete the word rapid “because FDA has authorized laboratory-based antigen tests.”

Like the RNA test, it is also done by nasopharyngeal swab. If the test results positive, it means that the antigen is present, yet the challenge with it is the probability of missing an active infection. If the test results negative but the patient manifests COVID-19 symptoms, it is safe to do a molecular RT-PCR as a confirmatory test. The antigen test is usually done as a screening test to a large number of people for quick identification of SARS-CoV2 and for the purpose of infection prevention and control measures. Another advantage of this test is that it has a cheaper cost in contrast with the molecular RT-PCR test.

Antibody Test

The second type of the COVID-19 test is the Antibody Test. This is also known as serological or blood test. Having this test helps recognize the antibodies produced by the immune system against SARS-CoV2. However, it cannot sense an active COVID-19 infection.

Antibodies defend the body against foreign invaders, in this case, a specific antigen like a virus. The antibodies detected are possible to have been present a long time ago, which one can query a quantified amount of time. They can be interpreted to someone who has been previously infected, no matter how many months have passed. As long as infection had occurred, antibodies are present. Samples from these tests are withdrawn by blood.

Antibody test results are usually released within 24 hours. Immunoglobulins are types of antibodies that specialize in binding to a particular antigen, in this case, the spike protein structure of SARS-CoV2. The two most common immunoglobulins that are checked from an antibody test are Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and Immunoglobulin M (IgM). A positive result of IgG, may indicate a long-term protection against SARS-CoV2, which shows that a person may have developed antibodies from getting a severe case of Covid-19 infection. On the other hand, since IgM is generally the first antibody produced when a virus attacks, a positive result of IgM may represent a new infection, or possibly newly vaccinated, as the immune system has started to contain the virus.

Conclusion:

With the non-stop increase of COVID-19 cases globally, early recognition is still one of the best infection prevention measures to raise awareness and avert further transmission among the public.

References:

  1. www.health.com
  2. www.cdc.gov
  3. www.fda.gov/media

Is it Dengue or COVID-19? How to Find Out

Introduction

Have you ever heard of those confusing diagnosis of patients dying of COVID-19 even if the disease might not really be due to COVID-19?

When the pandemic broke out, the common symptoms among the COVID-19 patients and Dengue patients pose bigger risks. It might be worrisome to think that you contracted COVID-19 instead of Dengue.

Comparing COVID-19 and Dengue

Although COVID-19 is respiratory and Dengue a hematologic problem in nature, the similarity in their signs and symptoms such as fever, restlessness, muscle pain and vomiting cannot be overlooked. The symptoms for Dengue patients typically last for 2-7 days. The symptoms for COVID-19 patients is apparent within 14 days. While COVID-19 patients can become asymptomatic, the Dengue patients always have mild symptoms. These challenging subjective and objective assessments demand the medical field to accurately determine these illnesses through their gold standard of diagnoses.

A common testing for Dengue virus in the Philippines is the Dengue NS1 Antigen test wherein it checks the so-called “non-structural protein NS1” that can only be found in a dengue virus. However, the best diagnostic test for Dengue is the Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT), a molecular test that is used to ascertain a genomic material of a dengue virus. Both tests can be collected through blood samples in addition that the NAAT has the option to collect samples from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear fluid that envelops the brain and spinal cord.

Diagnosing standard for COVID-19 is the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), a type of NAAT molecular test that detects the genetic material of a virus specifically its nucleic acid.  Other tests for COVID-19 are Antigen Tests that can spot the existence of a particular antigen of a virus, which suggests recent viral infection; and the currently proposed Saliva Test as an easier and more convenient alternative to RT-PCR. All these tests have different sample collections: nasal swab, blood and saliva respectively.

Both COVID-19 and Dengue treatments need the travel history of the patient. The reason is that the strain of Dengue-carrying mosquitoes varies according to the tropical location. This makes Dengue to be considered as an epidemic state of its time due to its surge of disease cases only in a specific area, community or region whereas COVID-19 cases have instant increase growth rate in a day which covers several countries and continents. 

Dengue is noted to have four serotypes: 1, 2, 3 and 4. Once an individual acquires a specific dengue virus and recovers, studies indicate that there is a strong immunity against the other types of dengue viruses but only for a short-term period, based from the time when it was treated. Hence, there is still a possibility of getting infected by the other serotypes. It is also important to take into consideration that concurrent infections of the said illness might lead to severe cases as compared from the ones who were not infected beforehand.

COVID-19 on the other hand, also has its own variants: UK variant, South African variant, Brazil variant and California variant. As up to date, the UK variant still has the record of rapid increased transmission, more severe hospitalizations and mortality rates among the reported cases. Same with Dengue, series of re-acquiring COVID-19 can occur even if previously infected with the same illness, although the aforementioned variants and other newly-discovered variants are still currently being studied in terms of its distinctions as mutations have been swiftly evolving.

Treatment of COVID-19 and Dengue

The good news is that the World Health Organization recently reported that the percentage of Dengue cases in the Philippines is 95% lower this year compared to the past years. One reason for this is that more Filipinos have become more clean-conscious for the fear of contracting COVID-19. The condition of full hospitals and healthcare systems make it more difficult to send reliefs to the Dengue patients this pandemic. So, what could be done in this situation is to know and apply the early treatment for Dengue.

Since both diseases are caused by virus, initial course of treatment for mild symptoms are general supportive symptomatic treatments. Common chief complaints for Dengue are fever and body weakness primarily due to dehydration. Disease management include antipyretics such as paracetamol to be taken orally or intravenously for fever and increased oral fluid intake or intravenous hydration as necessary for dehydration. COVID-19 chief complaints of fever, common colds and cough are also usually treated with medications such as paracetamol for fever, nasal decongestants, antihistamines, cough suppressants and expectorants for common colds and cough. In addition, doses of Vitamin C and Zinc are recommended for stronger immunity against the infection.

In severe cases of Dengue and COVID-19, symptoms manifest with their target physiologic state – difficulty of breathing and inadequate oxygenation for COVID-19 patients and shock syndrome for Dengue patients which signifies internal bleeding – both of which immediately require hospitalization for prompt medical management.

Despite these appalling complications, the majority who are diagnosed by both illnesses distinctly are identified as mild cases. Viruses – whether be found from the mosquitoes or simply by human interactions – are unfortunately a part of the new normal. Nevertheless, we can merely do our part to take the essential safety precautions recommended by the health experts; maintain a clean environment and compliance with the guidelines of physical distancing, wearing masks, and the most basic yet vital illness prevention- hand washing.

Conclusion

It is the second summer of lockdown. We would have seen the obvious rise of Dengue cases in the Philippines. The pandemic prevents this to happen because COVID-19 is on the rise instead. One obvious truth must be faced: We are not immortal. Our health can fail us if we do not take preventive measures to care for our bodies. So, if ever you have mild symptoms of Dengue, do not ignore it. You can check your mild symptoms through the Telemedicine service offered by MYPOCKETDOCTOR. The MYPOCKETDOCTOR gives 24/7/365 access to professional nurses and doctors.

Reference:
1) www.doh.gov.ph

2) www.pharmaceutical-technology.com

3) www.who.int

Why Sinovac is recommended for Comorbidities

Introduction

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations are now considered a global standard protocol recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prevent complications and decrease the number of mortalities against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The following vaccines are now widely used, some still with ongoing phases of their clinical trials: Oxford AstraZeneca, Gamaleya (Sputnik V) and Janssen which are all composed of a viral vector, Moderna and Pfizer BioNtech which used RNA (part of virus genetic code), Novavax which is based on protein based and Sinovac (CoronaVac) type as inactivated virus (weakened virus). AstraZeneca and Sinovac are the currently used vaccines in the Philippines, noting AstraZeneca that had presently identified thrombosis or “blood clot” as an adverse effect of the vaccine in some countries in Europe.

All about Comorbidities

Comorbidities apply to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions such as chronic respiratory, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and other immunodeficiency illnesses. Worldwide observations indicate that people aged 60 and above, and people of any age-group with noted comorbidities have increased risk of getting infected with moderate, severe and critical cases of COVID-19 that usually result to problems with airway, breathing and circulation, the three main indicators to emergency situations. The mentioned group are prioritized by the government and medical authorities due to the nature of their body conditions that cause amplified number of hospitalizations and deaths among all COVID-19 patients. In line with this, Sinovac (Coronavac) vaccine has now been recommended by the Philippines Vaccine Expert Panel to be inoculated for the said population. 

From this reference, the Department of Health (DOH) had already announced that Sinovac are specified to be given to ages 18-59 years old with controlled comorbidities, whereas AstraZeneca will be allotted for ages 60 and above, aligned with the indications of the emergency use authorization (EUA). People with uncontrolled comorbidities are not advised to get vaccinated due to the unforeseeable circumstances that might happen post vaccination. In addition, noticeable side and adverse effects during and after vaccination will not be identified appropriately. For an instance, if this will be caused merely by the vaccine or just because an individual wasn’t able to take his maintenance medications?

The Preference for Sinovac

Other issues that might arise include the immune system that might not respond well from the vaccine, again defeating its purpose.  Apart from the current issues of AstraZeneca from its possible link to unusual blood clots, why is Sinovac (Coronavac) recommended to patients with comorbidities?

The current successful efficacy findings of clinical trials phases in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia for Sinovac vaccine, in addition with the dilemma of COVID-19 vaccines available in the country are the top reasons for the use of Sinovac vaccine as an alternative option approved given the rising number of active COVID-19 vaccines in the country. From the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) coverage with Dr. Edsel Salvaña, a member of Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) Technical Advisory Group, the clinical trials proved that Sinovac vaccines are best for general population with moderate risk exposure. Efficacy results in Brazil yielded 50.4% in mild, 78% in moderate and 100% in severe cases. Indonesia had noted 65% efficacy while Turkey had generated 83.5% efficacy rate in their overall population. With the given clinically evidenced-based studies, Sinovac vaccines are certainly evident to protect against the severe disease based on the DOH framework.

Why are there different efficacy rates? Several factors had to be considered. An aspect to be measured are those individuals that are previously infected with the COVID-19 infection but then got vaccinated. This group is traceable to have more protection against the virus since they already have the natural antibodies produced by the immune system when they got infected. One more facet to be seen are the studies regarding the interval of the COVID-19 vaccine doses. Some had done it between the second, third and fourth week intervals. The study concluded that the longer duration of vaccine interval optimizes the effectiveness of the vaccine. The IATF Technical Advisory Group has strong convictions that the expected efficacy of vaccines during real-life use will be similar from the clinical trials, but also projected that it will not be a 100% executed identically due to issues in chains and roll-out of the vaccines.

Conclusion

Herd immunity, which means that a larger population are immune to a certain virus or illness, is the ultimate end goal of this COVID-19 vaccination to end the global pandemic. However, vaccines are delayed not only in the Philippines as other countries are also working hard to get their own supplies.

As herd immunity may not be the most attainable as of the moment, prioritization is given over population with comorbidities as to protect them from severe complications and prevent further increase of mortality rates in the country. Since the supply of AstraZeneca are now very limited as of the moment, and yet the reports of active COVID-19 cases are still on the rise, an immediate and efficient solution would be to vaccinate more people the soonest time possible, given that Sinovac vaccine is the only currently available. By the reassuring outcome of its conducted clinical trials, it is way better to be protected from COVID-19 than none at all.

References:

  1. www.rappler.com
  2. www.youtube.com/watch?v=znnJXU_cSGg
  3. www.doh.gov.ph

Not Feeling Well After COVID Vaccination? Here is your Guide

Introduction

Before you think about dying from the COVID-19 vaccine, please know that it is normal to experience side effects from the vaccination. These side effects can include muscle pain, tiredness, headache, chills, fever and nausea. According to the World Health Organization, it is still unknown whether the COVID-vaccines can protect against the COVID-19 disease and also protect a person against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Nevertheless, getting the COVID-19 shot is still our best chance to move forward and freely from this pandemic dread.

So, take a deep breath and learn more about the aftercare for the COVID-19 vaccination.

What to Do

The common side effects can happen in the arm and can include pain, redness and swelling in the injection site. Most of these uneasy feelings occur in the body within the first three days after COVID-19 vaccination. They generally last for one to two days. There are some other disturbing indicators that you can possibly feel all throughout the body post vaccination. These signs are normal because the body regulates its normal physiologic function. This function being to fight against the foreign-invading material that enters the body. 

Therefore, knowing your basic first-aid can save a lot of time and eliminate anxieties. 

First, you can decrease the pain and discomfort in the injection site by applying a cool, wet washcloth or a cold compress on the area where you got the shot. You must press for at least two to five minutes, as needed. This is to promote vasoconstriction. Vasoconstriction aims for temporary narrowing of the blood vessels over that area. This narrowing results to gradual blood circulation and therefore, lessens the inflammation and pain. Another way to decrease pain in the jabbed area is to use or exercise the arm in aiming for good blood circulation.

Second, you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for any pain-related senses like headache or muscle pain. These drugs are allowed for as long as they are taken post-vaccination. Any pain relievers taken before the COVID shot can affect the body’s immune response to the vaccine, thus, defeating its purpose. 

Third, in case of fever, it is advisable to drink plenty of water to prevent fluid loss and dehydration caused by increased body temperature. Antipyretics like paracetamol can be taken for fever episodes. However, it must only be taken to get rid of fever that lasts for one to two days. Any symptoms beyond the given duration must be consulted with a physician. 

Fourth, watch out for possible warning signs of allergies. These allergies can range from a common redness, itchiness or swelling to any body part to as worst as difficulty of breathing or wheezing within the first four hours of the first vaccine dose. Allergies bring fear and distress after the COVID-19 vaccination, especially for those people who have history of allergic reactions to other vaccines and medications. Strict monitoring is necessary. These allergy signs need immediate assessment and care from the health care providers.

What Not to Do

First, do not get tattoos or piercings right after the COVID-19 vaccination. There is a possibility that the wounding caused by the tattoos or piercings can trigger the immunity response of the body.

Second, do not acquire any other vaccine around the same time of the COVID-19 inoculation. There are still pending studies about the reaction of COVID-19 shot when combined with other vaccines. It is better to re-schedule the other vaccination for some other time.

Third, do not push yourself to do heavy chores or to exercise. Your muscles might be feeling weak and painful after the vaccine. Take at least two days off to rest your body.

Fourth, do not put your guard down after the COVID-19 vaccination. Most of the vaccines need two shots to develop the immunity against the COVID-19 virus. Proper hand washing, wearing face masks and social distancing must still be observed. The immunity response will still happen only after two weeks of the first vaccination. Furthermore, it is still unknown how long the immunity will last to protect the vaccinated person.

There is still no 100% assurance that you will not transmit the virus. You can be temporarily immunized but you might still get infected and become the carrier of the COVID-19 variants. Keeping this in mind, it is also important to not lose your vaccine card. The vaccine card will serve as proof of your vaccination to be used in case of health emergency this pandemic.

Conclusion

All these information are for basic guidance only.

It is our personal health responsibility to get awareness about the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. This will manage our own expectations, such as our daily activities being interrupted because of the side effects. It is better to seek assistance from the doctor if your health continuously suffers after the COVID-19 vaccination. For immediate health consultation, you may contact Mypocketdoctor through their Facebook page and/or chat with their agents on their website www.mypocketdoctor.com. Likewise, you may check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) through this link.

Reference:

  1. www.wcnc.com/covid-19-vaccine
  2. www.who.int
  3. www.cdc.gov

Can You Treat COVID-19 with Ivermectin and Lianhua?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), a viral illness caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), made a record-breaking pandemic that affected millions of people around the world. To date, the Philippines has reported over 904,285 COVID-19 cases, of which 199,121 are active.

Moving forward to its new normal state entails finding an evidenced-based clinical management which includes discovering appropriate and efficient therapeutic drugs. Two medicines are now in folly craze against the said virus – Ivermectin, an anthelmintic drug used to treat parasitic infections, and Lianhua Qingwen, a Chinese traditional herb that is known to treat influenza virus.

Ivermectin

Ivermectin, on the other hand, is an FDA-approved anthelmintic drug that paralyzes and kills parasites. It is commonly used in animals for the prevention and treatment of heartworm and acariasis, although it can also be taken by humans in certain indications such as head lice, scabies, river blindness, strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis. Ivermectin has been connected to COVID-19 treatment due to its previous studies that it can inhibit viral activity of the causative virus in vitro, meaning outside the living organism that is usually done in a laboratory setting. According to the National Institutes of Health, Ivermectin studies done in vitro were “able to effect -5000 fold reduction in viral RNA at 48 hours.” It has been noted for its anti-viral activity in vitro not only for SARS-CoV2 but also for other viral illnesses such as dengue, yellow fever and Zika virus. Aside from its anti-viral load, Ivermectin is also shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which makes the researchers speculate that it can be valuable in treating COVID-19 patients.

Despite the said claims, there are still no documented reports in the clinical benefits of Ivermectin when indicated on these viral infections. There are a lot more studies needed to be conducted for a more scientific proof of these inferences particularly in implementing it in vivo, meaning inside a living organism (i.e. mice, humans). When further studies in humans are made possible, it is also recommended to evaluate Ivermectin as a complementary drug to other antiviral drugs that are proven to treat COVID-19 to maximize its efficacy, and later on, can significantly improve recovery time.

Lianhua

Lianhua Qingwen, is a conventional Chinese medicine preparation used to treat respiratory infectious diseases including severe acute respiratory syndrome in China. It is a product of “reduction and addition of combined Maxing Shigan decoction and Yin Qiao powder”, and is a widely recognized antiviral agent in China. It is made up of 13 herbs. Lianhua is documented to alleviate “heat-toxin invasion of the lungs, including symptoms such as fever, aversion to cold, muscle soreness, stuffy and runny nose”, and has been used for such symptoms in China for more than ten years.

Since Lianhua has already been an identified drug specifically for flu-related viral illnesses, emerging data revealed that it can also be used to treat COVID-19 infection. Data gathered by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that Lianhua as one of the traditional Chinese approved medicines for treatment of COVID-19, has been formally accepted “due to its antiviral, lung protection, and regulation of inflammation response as well as immune regulation actions.” Current scientific evidence suggests that adding Lianhua combined with other antiviral drugs demonstrates advantageous effects in treating COVID-19 as compared to no Lianhua at all, signifying that it can be added as a clinical management approach for COVID-19.

However, strong valid evidence necessitate further clinical trials due to the scope and limitation of the study. One is to examine the effects of Lianhua combined with other antiviral agents in a larger population, in other countries aside from China, and in its suitable classification according to its specific target group (severity, comorbidities, etc.) Another recommendation is an unbiased study about the herbs incorporated in Lianhua to specify the mechanism of action in each herb and how it affects explicitly in the inhibition of virus proliferation. Potential adverse reactions must also be taken into consideration as Lianhua has been linked with gastrointestinal-related symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. With an intensive study of each herb, one may classify to which ingredient it is associated with a particular symptom and in the future, improve the component of the drug.

Conclusion

With all the information regarding Ivermectin and Lianhua, the Food and Drug Administration keeps reminding the general public to be responsible enough in taking these medications. Both are prescription medications accepted in the Philippines but are not yet official therapeutic drugs for COVID-19. If you have warning signs of COVID-19, you can have online consultation with Mypocketdoctor. You may contact Mypocketdoctor through their Facebook page and/or chat with their agents on their website www.mypocketdoctor.com. Likewise, you may check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) through this link.

Remember, even though initial researches were already made known, further studies and clinical trials for Ivermectin and Lianhua are still currently ongoing and under development.

References:
www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
www.hindawi.com/journals

Home Care for COVID-19 Patients

Introduction

Fear has never become so real when recent reports show that COVID-19 has infected more families and most hospitals are getting full. Translation? The COVID-19 battleground is now in our home.

While there are still further studies regarding the medical management of moderate, severe and critical COVID-19 patients, home care could be considered for low-risk individuals who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

For the Caregiver

Fear has never become so real when recent reports show that COVID-19 has infected more families and most hospitals are getting full. Translation? The COVID-19 battleground is now in our home.

If possible, eating utensils should be disposable. If not, eating utensils must be cleaned using disposable gloves. Faucet, handles, kitchen sink and drains can be cleaned using disinfectant sprays and can also be included in the general cleaning at the end of the day. As for washing of clothes, do not shake the laundry and separate the clothes of the patient. Dry the clothes in open sunlight if possible.

It is best to sustain a well-ventilated environment for good air circulation. Make sure to wear the mask properly at all times except for obvious reasons like eating. For hygiene’s sake, please do not touch the mask once used. Change the mask immediately when dirty and soiled. N95 masks are still recommended but have insufficient supply as these are used in the hospital premises. Disposable masks are advised for personal use over cloth masks. Options to wear double masks with disposable masks on the outer part and cloth masks inside are okay as long as cloth masks are properly washed after use. Masks should not be placed on infants under two years old. Masks should also not be used by anyone who has trouble breathing or is not able to remove the covering without help.

Hand washing is still the top standard precautionary measure to prevent any kind of communicable diseases whether be in the hospital premises or at home. Wash hands with soap and running water before and after eating. Hand washing is also advisable for the use of comfort room, possible contact with a household member, or contact with any personal belongings and utensils. This hand washing must be strictly observed by the caretaker of a COVID-19 patient. Hand washing using alcohol-based hand rub can also be done if available. Disposable paper towels are also recommended to use after hand washing. If not, COVID-19 patient and the caretaker should have their own personal cloth to use and change immediately when soiled.

Movements and Contacts

Asymptomatic to mild cases of COVID-19 can be managed at home with the basic knowledge of general supportive symptomatic treatment. According to the World Health Organization, patients who do not qualify for home care are those who are above 60 years old, smokers, and/or obese. A sick person also cannot qualify for home care if he or she has non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, immunosuppression and cancer.

We are aware by now that COVID-19 spreads between people who are within about 6 feet through respiratory droplets. This close-contact spread is created when someone talks, coughs or sneezes. There must be a separate room between the COVID-19 patient and the family members. Physical distancing guidelines must be followed even indoors. If the patient cannot have a separate room, make sure that there is a good air flow inside the house. Everyone must maintain a 1-meter distance apart from the COVID-19 patient. Household members are advised not to eat together. The sick person should eat or be fed in their room, if possible.

It is also advisable to limit the movement of household members sharing the one house. You must limit the interaction of the person with the pets. Infected dogs and cats carry greater risk to roam around people. No visitors allowed, especially who are at higher risk for severe illness. Caregivers of the sick family member should stay home, except in limited circumstances.

Conclusion

There are still a number of home quarantine measures to be done for so as long as infection prevention and awareness is considered. Since COVID-19 symptoms mimic other flu-related illnesses, same modality of management can be done. On top it all, maintain healthy habits for a healthy lifestyle – eat nutritious food with daily dose of vitamins, adequate hydration and a good amount of sleep.

We can also look for emergency warning signs- blue, gray, or pale-colored lips, nail beds or skin, depending on normal tone, inability to wake or stay awake, new confusion, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, and trouble breathing. Have the doctor’s contact number at hand. If you are not sure about the symptoms, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a self-checker tool. You may also contact MyPocketDoctor through their Facebook page and/or chat with their agents on their website www.mypocketdoctor.com.

References:
1) www.cdc.gov
2) www.who.int
3) www.philstar.com

The COVID-19’s Gifts of Depression and Anxieties

Introduction

Depression occurs when a person does not accept his reality. But with the COVID-19 realities, who can blame you? One study conducted last December 2020 shows that 16.9% of every 1,879 Filipinos reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms. The factors for the depression of Filipinos are imposed quarantine, extended homestay and poor health status.

Imposed Quarantine, Extended Homestay and Poor Health Status

The harmful spread of the mutating COVID-19 virus has become a top concern of every country. It remains to be the top concern of Filipinos today. Related to the nascent COVID-19 vaccination, dire situations like loss of income and sick family members have developed daily. The Filipino has a strong communal and family culture. Unlike the Western culture, the Filipinos are more affected by what happens with their “kapwa-tao”. This communal sense brings up the issue on stigmatization surrounding depression. The genetic factor of mental health has imposed difficulty on the discussion of depression. The pre-pandemic stigma has effects on the social vocabulary of Filipinos on depression, anxiety and insanity. There is still a challenge to discuss embarrassing issues like your inability to take control of your life because of your poor mental health According to the National Center for Mental Health, there have been massive increases in the calls they receive in their hotline. The calls range from 80 calls per month before the quarantine started to almost 400 calls per month during the quarantine. What is the silver lining in this condition? Well, the pandemic becomes the most provoking factor to openly discuss mental health.

Extended homestay also causes depression and anxiety. Studies have emerged from different psychologists that prove that many people are diagnosed with depression because of this historical pandemic. From the pandemic’s economic impact, many people have been laid off from their companies. These companies are losing money than gaining. This pandemic has forced people to face harsh realities like losing jobs, going hungry and losing loved ones. Losing job is not only a matter of losing source of money but losing the resources of activities and confidence in your skills. No matter how the employee explains that the retrenchment is not a sign of bad performance of an employee, it is still a hard feeling to accept that you cannot control the circumstance of your employer’s financial loss. With regards to the younger population, the KFF reported that young adults have experienced closures of universities that may contribute to poor mental health. Other factors such as substance use and recurring suicidal thoughts also worsen mental health conditions. The main takeaway here is that the job loss, grieving family and new schedule are not suitable for combination with extended homestay.
Poor health status strongly affects mental health. What is psychological is biological. The Center for Disease Control and Protection has also addressed this matter just this year, where COVID-19 has had a significant effect on your lives. The public health actions of social distancing are necessarily helpful in preventing the virus’s spread. However, it has affected our way of interactions with people and can make us feel isolated or lonely. We are connected and yet there’s still a difference in actual meetings with friends and hearing real laughter’s from your loved ones.

Understanding Depression and Anxiety

You are not alone in this. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world’s craziness to a whole new level. While depression and anxiety can make you feel like you are losing your mind, it does not necessarily mean that you are a diagnosed crazy. Depression and anxiety can be treated.

What is depression? Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feeling of sadness. You can experience isolation, alienation and profound loss of interest in things that usually bring you pleasure. There are seven types of depression, major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal affective disorder and atypical depression. When we hear about “clinical depression”, the word generally refers to major depressive disorder. The key features of clinical depression are: depressed mood, changes in weight, fatigue, lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed, changes in sleep, feeling of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty concentrating and thoughts of death and suicide.

Depression is different from anxiety. The common symptoms of anxiety disorder are irrational fears, panic attacks, avoiding social situations, tense muscles, trouble falling or staying asleep, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, restlessness excessive worrying and feeling agitated. Depression and anxieties are signs of poor mental health and not necessarily signs of mental illness. Before you consider yourself as mentally ill, do not self-diagnose but consult a professional mental health practitioner first. The title of this blog sounds insensitive. Just to be clear, this blog is not promoting toxic positivity. Likewise, having a negative mindset is also not the solution. The trick is to balance: What remains good in this situation?

Conclusion

The gift of this situation is that there are actually trained psychologists in the Philippines who are willing to reach out. You can easily talk to anyone with the boom of the social media. However, it is important to distinguish the line between who can actually show empathy and sympathy. Your friends may sympathize with how you feel but it takes a trained professional to empathize with the real situation that you are going through.

This is where MyPocketDoctor comes in. The company has trained psychologists who can assist you if you are experiencing anxiety and depression. The company understands that travel and budget can be constraining during this time. That is why these concerned individuals offer affordable rates with just one call away. You may contact MyPocketDoctor through their Facebook page and/or chat with their agents on their website www.mypocketdoctor.com. Likewise, you may check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) through this link.

Reference
1) www.ncmh.gov.ph
2) www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
3) www.cdc.gov

The Hopes and Horrors of Covid-19 Vaccines

Introduction

The month of March has marked the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. We have all experienced uncertainties, fears and griefs. According to the latest survey of Pulse Asia, 94% out of 2,400 Filipinos are afraid of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus. What is hopeful about our present situation is that, finally, eleven COVID-19 are available vaccines worldwide. These vaccines are namely Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Sinovac CoronaVac, Gamaleya Sputnik V, Bharat BioTech (“Covaxin”), Sinopharm, Moderna, Novavax, Arcturus, Janssen and Clover.

The COVID-19 Vaccines in the Philippines

Among these eleven vaccines, four vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drugs Association (FDA). These are Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Sinovac CoronaVac and Gamaleya Sputnik V. The distributed vaccines are Sinovac CoronaVac and AstraZeneca. Meanwhile, Pfizer BioNTech and Gamaleya Sputnik V are expected to arrive this April.

The eleven COVID-19 vaccines are classified into four categories: nucleic acid vaccines, viral vector vaccines, protein sub-unit vaccines and whole virus vaccines. Each of the COVID-19 vaccines can produce body immunity through the stimulation process of an immune response to an antigen. This immune response often occurs at the spike protein on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.

Then, there is Ivermectin. It is not a vaccine. Ivermectin is a drug commonly used to deworm large animals like horses and cows. So, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization (WHO) have warned against the use of Ivermectin for treatment and prevention of COVID-19 in humans. The FDA earlier allowed a Compassionate Special Permit or emergency use authorization. However, no doctors have sent application forms to use Ivermectin as of now. This shows that this pandemic increased our will to innovate, even incorporating a deworming drug into the whole dynamic.

Most of the available COVID-19 vaccines today are created by new technology. Moreover, they were made only within the span of one year. Each vaccine varies in effectiveness and efficacy. For instance, the nucleic acid vaccine and its unique technology to create antibodies against COVID-19 and other diseases. While the other types of vaccines typically use a weakened virus to cause an immune response from our bodies, the nucleic acid vaccine, such as Moderna, Arcturus and Pfizer-BioNTech, uses a molecule containing the genetic material from the COVID-19 virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech has 95% efficacy. Both Moderna and Arcturus have 90% efficacy.

The viral vector vaccines are Janssen, Oxford AstraZeneca and Gamaleya Sputnik V vaccines. They use the adenovirus, which causes common cold. The adenovirus transmits the genetic material that triggers the immune response of the human body. Adenovirus only serves as a carrier of the genetic material, hence the name “viral vector vaccine”. It does not cause COVID-19 or other diseases.

The protein sub-unit vaccine, like Novavax and Clover Biopharmaceuticals, uses only a sub-unit of the COVID-19 virus to trigger immune response. This synthesized COVID-19 sub-unit is weakened, small and dormant. Therefore, it cannot cause unnecessary and harmful effects on the human body. Novavax, the most famous protein sub-unit vaccine, has 89.3% efficacy against the virus.

The whole virus vaccine uses inactivated or dead COVID-19 virus to activate the immune response of the human body. The Sinopharm, Covaxin and Sinovac are examples of whole virus vaccines. This vaccine is created based on the old method of most vaccines wherein the dormant whole virus is used to create antibodies to fight specific diseases. The Sinovac has 60% efficacy. The pending vaccines Sinopharm and Covaxin have 78% and 81% efficacy, respectively.

Filipinos’ Distrust on COVID-19 Vaccination

The news authorities from the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom have earlier delivered reported that people are dying from blood clot, caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, the Wire Science News recently clarified that the blood clot is caused by other factors like old age and pre-existing disease. Moderna also receives bad reports despite its 90% efficacy. With these increasing horror stories, we need to assess and verify by asking the right persons like professional doctors and nurses. Let us be reminded that this could possibly be the case of social distrust caused by economic manipulation and the persisting distrust of the Filipinos on its government. There is a lingering doubt in the competence and intelligence of leaders and scientists all over the world. Furthermore, the scarcity of food, jobs and other basic necessities have pushed more individuals to selfishly act on “survival mode.” This chaotic perspective can be easily overcome. We can ask curious questions like, “How effective is the vaccine to the people closest to me?”

What is evident here is that the pandemic’s uncertainties cause many Filipinos to become more pessimistic. So, it is wise to find support group or reliable companies that focus on helping the public’s needs. One company that helps in public health needs is the MYPOCKETDOCTOR. The general practitioners, specialists, dentist and clinical psychologist of MYPOCKETDOCTOR are available 24/7/365 to offer Telehealth services. Because, while we struggle with anxieties and social distrust, it is understandable why we doubt leaders and scientists who promote the vaccine for the original COVID-19 virus. The increasing cases today are not caused by the original virus, but by the mutated COVID-19 virus. No wonder that the Pulse Asia Survey says that 6 out of 10 Filipinos do not want to get vaccinated.

Conclusion

The fact remains that the fear of the vaccination spells a vast difference. Many experts explain that what matters is not the type or brand of the COVID-19 vaccines but the decision to get vaccinated. In times of paralyzing fear, let us not forget that the human history is marked with the Black Death, Cholera and Spanish Flu epidemic. Regardless of how complicated the virus could mutate, what cannot be killed is our human spirit, which keeps on hoping to solve any life challenges.

References:

1) Publication in Journals for Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 CT Results and Phase III Interim Results

2) FDA Philippines, EUA Approval

3) Pulse Asia Survey, February 2021.

4) CNN News, March 2021 (www.cnn.ph)

5) Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 2021 (www.inquirer.net)

6) The Wire Science News, March 2021 (www.science.thewire.in)

7) World Health Organization Publications, February-March 2021 (www.who.int)

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