CMAAO CORONA FACTS and MYTH BUSTER 82
Dr K K Aggarwal
President Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania, HCFI, Past National President IMA, Chief editor Medtalks
With additional inputs from Dr Monica Vasudeva
788: COVID-19 pandemic: Doctors sue French government for criminal negligence
With thousands of dead and 29,155 confirmed COVID-19 cases in France, thousands of health-care professionals infected, and six doctors already dead of the disease, anger against the government among workers and medical staff is mounting. Like governments across Europe, the French government downplayed the disease and deliberately withheld critical information from the public.
In response, hundreds of health-care professionals are filing a suit charging top officials with criminal negligence. A scandal erupted after ex-Health Minister Agnès Buzyn spoke to Le Monde, blaming Prime Minister Édouard Philippe for not calling off the March 15 first round of municipal elections, the second round of which has since been canceled, and for downplaying her warnings on the pandemic. It appears the interview was an attempt by Buzyn to shift criminal responsibility off her shoulders and onto those of Philippe and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Suit is based on Article 233, part 7 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates: “Anyone who voluntarily abstains from taking or launching measures that would allow, without risk for himself or third persons, for fighting a catastrophe that could threaten physical persons is punished with two years in jail and a 30,000 euro fine.”
“The government told them at the end of February that the masks would arrive. At the beginning of March, when they understood that the masks were not coming, they started hearing from the government that masks were not really needed… In fact, this was simply an admission of impotence and a lie. The plain truth is that the government had stocked no supplies.”
The last time this court was invoked was over the 1980s tainted blood scandal. Under Socialist Party (PS) President François Mitterrand, the National Center for Blood Transfusion (CNTS) knowingly used blood transfusions infected with the AIDS virus, wiping out France’s hemophiliac population. Then-Prime Minister Laurent Fabius’s PS government wanted to avoid using US companies’ equipment to test for the AIDS virus. It delayed all screening of the blood until French firms could make such equipment, by which point the blood supply was hopelessly contaminated.
789: Should face shields replace face masks to ward off coronavirus?
April 29 Journal of the American Medical Association, experts led by Dr. Eli Perencevich, of the university's department of internal medicine, and the Iowa City VA Health Care System
The clear plastic face shield, already in use by health care personnel.
Quickly and affordably produced and distribute
US CDC began advocating the use of cloth masks to help stop COVID-19 transmission in April, laboratory testing suggests that cloth masks provide [only] some filtration of virus-sized aerosol particles.
According to Perencevich's group, "face shields may provide a better option."
To be most effective in stopping viral spread, a face shield should extend to below the chin. It should also cover the ears and "there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield's headpiece,"
Shields have advantages over masks. First of all, they are endlessly reusable, simply requiring cleaning with soap and water or common disinfectants.
Shields are usually more comfortable to wear than masks, and they form a barrier that keeps people from easily touching their own faces.
When speaking, people sometimes pull down a mask to make things easier—but that isn't necessary with a face shield.
And "the use of a face shield is also a reminder to maintain social distancing, but allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception,"
According to the Iowa team, "in a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96% when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough."
When the study was repeated at the currently recommended physical distancing distance of 6 feet, face shields reduced inhaled virus by 92%
Face shields should only be one part of any infection control effort, along with social distancing and hand-washing.
790: A coronavirus mystery riddle: Why some places fare better
The coronavirus has touched almost every country, but its impact has been uneven. Global metropolises like New York, Paris and London have been devastated, while teeming cities like Bangkok, Baghdad, New Delhi and Lagos have, so far, largely been spared.
The question of why the virus has overwhelmed some places and left others relatively untouched is a puzzle that has spawned numerous theories and speculations but no definitive answers.
There are hundreds of studies underway on how demographics, public health and genetics could possibly explain the virus’ differing impact.
Each possible explanation seems to come with caveats and counterevidence. If older people are highly vulnerable, for instance, Japan, with its aging population, should be devastated. It is far from it.