Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageEssential Science: Why some medications make COVID-19 worse

By Tim Sandle     Mar 30, 2020 in Science
A new review of certain prescribed medications indicates that some drugs may make COVID-19 symptoms worse, especially in relation to the lungs. We also look at some other findings of interest in relation to the virus.
The research comes from the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health New Orleans School of Public Health and this finds that some drugs may make the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus more likely to attach to receptors found in the trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles. These receptors are called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors.
This is important because the virus has been found to bind to these ACE2 receptors, and critically this is the route that the virus takes for getting into lung cells. The inference is that if a person is on certain drugs, then this may encourage the infection to take hold. The risk from this of a greater chance of developing pneumonia and respiratory failure, following infection (this can occur ten to fourteen days after initial infection with the virus).
Deborah Cannon of the Special Pathogens Branch as she processes SARS specimens.
Deborah Cannon of the Special Pathogens Branch as she processes SARS specimens.
CDC/ Anthony Sanchez
The finding has, according to science website Laboratory Roots, come from the laboratory of Dr. James Diaz. The researcher has been investigating why some COVID-19 patients develop serious respiratory complications whereas others do not.
Dr. Diaz says: “Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers are highly recommended medications for patients with cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease."
It follows that these types of drugs tend to be administered to older people. These types of medicines are only issued through a medical assessment and prescription.
An abandoned facemask on a field in the UK.
An abandoned facemask on a field in the UK.
The researcher reached this conclusion by running experimental models. The models demonstrated that intravenous infusions of the medications results in a rise in the level of ACE2 receptors in the cardiopulmonary circulation.
Those who take the medications have increased numbers of ACE2 receptors in their lungs, and this provides greater opportunities SARS-CoV-2 S proteins to bind. The inference is that these patients could well be at a higher risk of more severe disease outcomes.
The model is supported by data compiled from cases in China. Here, with 1,099 viral cases, those patients identified as having hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, or chronic renal disease, tended to have more severe infections and COVID-19 related symptoms.
It also follows that one potential reason why rates of infection from the virus are lower in children is because young people carry lower levels of ACE2 inhibitors in their lower respiratory tracts. This means they probably do not attract many viral particles. However, it may also be that children have higher levels of antibodies.
The following video provides some advice for older adults:
Note of caution
It is very important that if anyone has been prescribed a medication by a qualified medical doctor that they do not discontinue using the prescribed medication before seeking further medical advice.
Research paper
The research findings have been reported to the Journal of Travel Medicine. The associated paper is titled “Hypothesis: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers may increase the risk of severe COVID-19.”
Lung damage
A doctor shows an x-ray of Abdelkhaleq and Abdelkarim's tiny bodies  which share a kidney and a...
A doctor shows an x-ray of Abdelkhaleq and Abdelkarim's tiny bodies, which share a kidney and a pair of legs but have separate hearts and lungs
Mohammed HUWAIS, AFP
Meanwhile, scientists are starting to gather more information about the impact of the virus on the lungs of patients. Here CT scans have revealed specific signatures of lung damage due to the novel coronavirus. This analysis has revealed certain characteristics, such as ground-glass opacities (a hazy opacity commonly seen in pneumonia), and the various areas of the lungs subject to infection, such as the bilateral and lower lung zones. For the most serve cases, a relatively larger area of lung involvement has been observed.
Social distancing
People mantain social distancing as they queue outside a grocery store in Faridabad
People mantain social distancing as they queue outside a grocery store in Faridabad
Money SHARMA, AFP
A new modelling study conducted in Singapore has demonstrated that a mix of physical distancing interventions, quarantine (for infected people), school closure, and workplace distancing, is most effective at reducing the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases.
Essential Science
This article is part of Digital Journal's regular Essential Science columns. Each week Tim Sandle explores a topical and important scientific issue.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the creation of apps and tracking systems using people's sm...
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the creation of apps and tracking systems using people's smartphone location as part of the effort to limit contagion
Tiziana FABI, AFP/File
The current focus of Essential Science, given the huge implications around coronavirus, is with all-things COVID-19 related. Last week we looked at and dismissed the conspiracy theories and put them into a box labeled ‘fake moon landings’. The novel coronavirus sweeping the world has been proven not to be genetically engineered and it is of natural origin, as new research has shown.
The week before last we continued with discussions around the novel coronavirus, considering how the coronavirus penetrates cells, with a view to developing a mechanism to block the viral activity. Here a cellular enzyme that is necessary for viral entry into lung cells appears promising.
More about Covid19, Medication, coronavirus, sarscov2
 
Latest News
Top News