May 30th 2020 - Dr. Fred Buckhold, Dr. Alexis Elward, Dr. Neil Anderson, Dr. Megan Cooper, & Dr. Lisa Richardson

Health Matters
Friday, May 29th
Dr. FRED BUCKHOLD, SLU Care general internist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  A new study finds ten percent of COVID-19 patients with diabetes died within 7 days of hospital admission.  Dr. Buckhold tells us why that might be.  He also responds to experts now saying six feet of separation may not be enough to stop transmission of the virus.  And talks about a new CDC clarification that the virus CAN be transmitted on surfaces and products, only it's not as common as person-to-person transmission.  And Dr. Buckhold is shocked to hear that half of Americans in a new poll say they would not get a possible coronavirus vaccine once one is found and manufactured.  Many respondents say they fear it will have been rushed and could be dangerous.  Dr. Buckhold is disappointed by those views and says it is frustrating but he's hoping those views will change by the time any vaccine might be made available to the public. 

Dr. ALEXIS ELWARD, infectious diseases specialist at Washington University School of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer at St. Louis Children's Hospital.  Dr. Elward is very worried about what she saw taking place over the Memorial Day Weekend by party goers at the Lake of the Ozarks all shoulder to shoulder in a pool. She's concerned about possible transmission of COVID-19 by asymptomatic people - those who are having no symptoms.  Plus, the virus can travel farther than 6 feet.  Incubation time can be up to 2 weeks, but it may be several weeks before we see any uptick in cases in Missouri.  She also says we can't count on the virus not spreading outdoors or in the sun or in water.  She says social distancing is a must, so is good hand hygiene, and wearing a mask when out in public.  Mask wearing is critical she says. What signs and symptoms should we be on the lookout for to suggest we might be getting sick?  Dr. Elward also has an update on that multi-system inflammatory disorder in children.  What are the symptoms?  How concerned should parents be?

Dr. NEIL ANDERSON, assistant professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine and assistant medical director of the Barnes Jewish Clinical Microbiology Laboratory.  New guidance from the CDC says antibody testing may get it wrong up to half the time.  Dr. Anderson tells us just exactly what antibody testing is.  Also, why are the test results so suspect?  Dr. Anderson says FDA initially didn't require a lot of documentation or results before allowing these products on the market.  Things have tightened up now.  But there's a lot we still don't know about antibody testing. Dr. Anderson says even if you are found to be positive for COVID-19 antibodies, that only means you were likely to have been exposed to the virus in the past -- and half that time those findings could be wrong.  And if you do have the antibodies, there's no guarantee that provides immunity -- nor does it tell us how long that possible immunity may last. Dr. Anderson says it is best to get an antibody test under the supervision of a physician  -- so you will have someone to interpret the test results for you.

Dr. MEGAN COOPER, a rheumatologist and an associate professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine.  She's also director of clinical immunology at St. Louis Children's Hospital and local lead researcher of a new study examining the genetics of COVID-19.  She is studying the DNA and genes of healthy people who develop severe COVID-19 illness -- without any history of medical problems.  She is also studying people who never become infected despite repeated exposures to coronavirus.   Knowledge gained from understanding COVID-19's extremes could lead to new therapeutic strategies for the illness.  This could also help with screening and allow these patients to be monitored more closely.  

Dr. LISA RICHARDSON, Director of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.  Cancer patients and cancer survivors have been found to be at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19 and also at higher risk of getting the virus.  Dr. Richardson says cancer and chemotherapy treatments weaken the immune system of patients.  She says lung cancer patients are at extreme high risk because many COVID cases are respiratory.  She says blood cancers are also a high risk.  Dr. Richardson says cancer patients and survivors need to be aware of this and make sure they are getting treatments and practicing all the protective measures that have been prescribed.