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Independence Day: 5 tips to stay healthy and safe

Independence day

Independence Day is a time for celebration, family reunions, good food, good drink and momentarily escaping the everyday. The 4th of July has been one of the biggest national holidays since 1776 and draws millions across the country to gatherings for fairs, fireworks, and fun. The significant difference this year is the lingering threat of the coronavirus. How can you and your family still enjoy the day and limit the risk of bringing home more than just fond memories?

Here are our top 5 tips for staying safe this Independence Day:

1. Don’t get locked up

While we highly recommend keeping your enjoyment legal, in this case, we mean avoiding enclosed space wherever possible. Bars, restaurants, cafes, and halls make it extremely difficult to socially distance and even in the case where special arrangements have been made by the establishment, close interaction with staff or other patrons is almost unavoidable. Couple this with recirculated air, or no ventilation at all, and it becomes a prime area for spreading diseases through contact or inhalation.

Only dine or drink at establishments with suitable outdoor spaces, or takeaway and enjoy at your own safe space.

2. Keep your distance

It’s hard to imagine spending time with friends and family without sharing a hug, a dance, or shaking hands. Just think about the number of people you would typically brush up against during a house party or concerts – don’t take that risk in the present climate. Respect your own social space and that of others and avoid direct contact with anyone outside of your household, even if you know and trust them (symptoms can take weeks to show).

3. Check the situation in your location

With certain areas being more greatly affected by COVID-19 than others,  check the situation in your area, and use your best judgment. For those most at risk, the elderly and sufferers from chronic diseases, the safest option is remaining at home and celebrating privately. This might sound like harsh advice, especially as the Independence Day seems like the perfect moment to reconnect with family and friends, but please take it into consideration – the price could prove severe.

4. Make it a Masquerade

If you do decide to venture out to celebrate then please take your face mask with you. It can be awkward when eating and drinking, but nonetheless protects you significantly when walking through crowded areas – of course, keep your distance as well.

One way to make wearing a mask more fun is to decorate your mask for the occasion, and could be a great way to encourage the kids to keep the masks on! Avoid using paints or anything that will drastically affect the absorbency of your mask – felt tips or chalks should be perfect – or pin on decorations!

5. Keep it clean

The safest way to approach anything you didn’t bring with you is to consider it is dirty or even contaminated, and either wipe it clean before you use it or immediately wash your hands after using it. This may seem extreme, but you cannot see any traces of a virus left behind from someone else so it is better to be safe than sorry. If you plan to eat and drink while attending an event bring your own cups, wipes, and even cutlery so you can dine worry-free. Be prepared for longer queues than normal, especially toilets.

Follow these tips, user your best judgment, and have a fun and relaxing 4th of July! fireworks

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DIAGNOSIS TOOL OF CHOICE FOR 27 YEARS

A group of infectious diseases clinicians standing together
GIDEON is ideally suited to assist infectious diseases specialists

 

Read the full case study here

Medical Doctors have a serious enough job to do when caring for people’s health. But when their patients have recently been to other countries this may increase the complexity even more.

They must get information on the current state of infectious diseases in the country where the patient has been. With over 200 countries worldwide, doctors would have to be walking databases of infectious diseases.

SITUATIONS MEDICAL DOCTORS HAVE TO DEAL WITH

For example, now the flight restrictions due to COVID are being eased, it is reasonable to expect that experts will once again be called out to go to other countries and help with their knowledge.

If these experts fall ill when they return home, their doctors will have the job of getting information on infectious diseases in the countries they had just visited.

This can be complicated by many factors. Limited data, remote destinations, similar symptoms for multiple diseases, and numerous diseases in the given country, etc.

These factors may also lead to misdiagnoses and mistreatment.

In fact, in the case of an Israeli agricultural expert who fell ill when he returned from India he was misdiagnosed several times. And of course, he was then treated for the wrong disease.

However, when his symptoms were entered into GIDEON he was correctly diagnosed and treated. He was discharged in good health a week later.

QUICK & RELIABLE INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIAGNOSIS

This is just one of the many reasons why Dr. Jeffrey P. Gumprecht says that GIDEON is irreplaceable.

Nothing compares to GIDEON for diagnosing infectious diseases. Especially when a person’s health and life are at stake.

Dr. Gumprecht puts some details into the interactive tool. Details like when a patient traveled to a specific country, when they returned, their symptoms, and the organ systems involved. That’s all GIDEON needs to generate a Differential Diagnosis.

It also enables him to share information with other infectious disease specialists. He says it’s an amazingly valuable source of information, helping users to quickly reach a diagnosis.

GIDEON – BETTER THAN A LIBRARY

Dr. Gumprecht prefers it to the Library at New York University because he can get a full description of any infectious disease from GIDEON.

As great as libraries might be, none of the online library platforms have diagnostic tools. Going to the library at best extends the patient’s suffering. At worst it costs critical time a patient might not have.

That’s why Dr. Gumprecht thinks nothing compares to GIDEON. It’s invaluable to have a solution where all of the information on infectious diseases is available in one place. It eliminates the need to go through multiple review articles or separate websites.

GIDEON is very beneficial to the infectious disease fellows at Mt Sinai hospital where Dr. Gumprecht works.

Read the full case study here

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

Predicting the future with GIDEON data

Researcher and globe

Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius

If you want to study the past then GIDEON is a great place to do so. The question is, what would you do with over 750,000 data points, dating back to the 17th Century?

A team of researchers answered in a recent interview.

  • Tad Dallas, Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University
  • Colin J. Carlson, Assistant Research Professor at Georgetown University
  • Timothée Poisot, Assistant Professor at Université de Montréal

Idea

“The three of us have talked a lot about why predictions and ecology work or don’t work. We all share a lot of frustrations about where things fall short and how things get framed. We were having a conversation one day about what sort of minimum information is that you would need to know what the future looks like. Then Tad said: “I’m going to make a model with no predictors”. 

“It opened up this incredibly interesting question – What do we do with this model if it’s able to do predictions?”

How did the GIDEON data help with the study?

“We tried to make a completely predictor free model to just see if we can let the similarity of pathogen communities to inform prediction and see how this can influence the future.”

“The main question was to get a sense of what happens where and when it happens”, said Colin. “There isn’t any cohesive narrative about where outbreaks happen. We used the GIDEON data because we thought it might be the most complete thing there is.” 

The outcome

The team produced a research paper “Testing predictability of disease outbreaks with a simple model of pathogen biogeography“, published by The Royal Society in November 2019. It proved effective at making the disease outbreak predictions and was created using only GIDEON data. Impressive!

Predicting the future outbreaks - two diagrams

The value of data is only realized when it is put into context and made relevant to a particular problem or theory. You provide the context and the problem, and we’ll provide you with the data. How could GIDEON fuel your research?

Read the full case study here.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

Catching COVID-19 In A Crowd (Even If You’re Outside)

Crowd protesting

Recent waves of crowd protests throughout the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death have set off alarming new concerns about the spread of COVID-19. 

Even though it is thought to be safer outside where the virus may be less contagious, those who are not practicing social distancing and congregating in close crowds could be putting themselves and others at risk. 

GIDEON Founder, Dr. Stephen Berger, recently explained in both Healthline and YahooFinance how easily COVID-19 could be transmitted in a crowd. 

“The center of a large crowd is no different than a sealed off, an unventilated room filled with potentially infected individuals — many holding large signs which will block the flow of clean air,” Dr. Berger said.   

Many protests document people not wearing masks or keeping a safe distance of six feet apart from one another. 

“If even one carrier of COVID-19 was present at these gatherings, we can expect to see a wave of cases appearing during the next 2 to 14 days,” explained Dr. Berger.

He adds that along with a potential spike in new cases attributed to protests, more spread could come during these summer months as businesses begin to open up and people grow tired of cautionary restrictions and guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing.  

He further recommends that those who participate in protests or other large summer gatherings should be vigilant about using a face mask and maintaining distance. Dr. Berger says that it is wise to “assume that the stranger next to you is spreading the virus.”

You can read the entire articles in Healthline here and YahooFinance here

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Dr. Berger On Face Shields: Are They Functional or Just Fashionable?

Face shield 3D medical visualization, Surgical equipment

Plastic face shields, or now “COVID visors,” are one piece of PPE still questionable as to how effective and necessary they are at protecting against the virus. 

Unlike fabric face masks which are recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in many situations and settings, there are no official guidelines or suggestions for wearing face shields. 

This begs the question: are face shields merely just in fashion at the moment – with many style influencers on social media sporting them — or are they actually functional? 

GIDEON Founder, Dr. Stephen Berger, answers questions about face shields for a recent article in InStyle magazine. 

“Theoretically, the virus of COVID-19 could arrive at the eyes and travel down through our tear ducts into the nose and throat,” says Dr. Berger. In this scenario, a face shield could protect the eyes from infected respiratory droplets potentially entering the body. 

However, there is still little to suggest that someone going about their everyday business would need to wear one. A protective fabric mask that fits snuggly over the mouth and nose is still the better option. “Plastic visors and shields do not filter air, and at most, prevent larger droplets of infectious material from arriving at our face directly,” Dr Berger explains. 

Additionally, face masks could lend a sense of false security with the wearer getting too close to someone else or feeling confident in attending large gatherings which are still considered unsafe. 

To help prevent the spread of the disease, the best protection remains wearing a cloth face mask, social distancing, and practising good hand hygiene.

Medical experts concede that the few instances when it may be helpful to wear a face shield are when working out and it is difficult to breathe in a tighter mask, or when it is necessary for someone who is hearing impaired to read lips and see facial expressions. 

The full article from InStyle is available here.  

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

Dining Out Amid COVID-19: Dr. Berger speaks with Healthline

Family dining in a restaurant with face masks on

Missing dining out in your favorite restaurant? As businesses have begun to reopen, many are wondering if it is safe to eat out again.

GIDEON Founder and infectious disease and microbiology specialist, Dr. Stephen Berger, recently answered questions about safe dining amid COVID-19 for Healthline

One of the most important things to take into consideration, Dr. Berger says, is whether a restaurant is set up for safe social distancing and keeping the designated six-foot separation between tables. 

Also, he says, “before sitting down and asking for a menu, check to confirm that the restaurant staff is wearing masks and that these masks cover their noses and mouths.”

Dr. Berger reminds those venturing to dine out that any number of objects found in a restaurant could potentially be contaminated with the virus–such as tablecloths, menus, salt shakers, credit card machines, chairs, and doorknobs—but it is only harmful if it then gets into the body. Scrupulous attention to basic hygiene (handwashing and sanitizing) before and after eating must be followed. 

Other ways you can check if a restaurant is working hard to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum are if they offer disposable menus and silverware, hand sanitizer for guests, contactless payment, and strictly adhere to limited seating.  

Finally, Dr. Berger suggests it might be better to opt for a table outside if possible, or a spot that is “large, open, and ventilated.” 

You can read the entire article in Healthline here

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

Do gloves protect you from COVID-19?

Can gloves protect you from COVID-19? Blue surgical gloves hanging on clothesline string with clothespinThere have been many recommendations set forth over the past few months by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gloves have also been suggested as a way of preventing the spread, there are no official recommendations on wearing them.

Because the virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets and not through the skin, the jury is still out on whether or not gloves are beneficial at all. 

Our co-founder and infectious disease expert, Dr. Stephen Berger, recently commented on the efficacy of gloves for an article in InStyle magazine. He says “there is no evidence that gloves can protect us from acquiring COVID-19.”

Dr. Berger adds that, if anything, they are more likely to prevent someone from passing the virus to others rather than protecting one’s self from getting it. 

It is also important to remember that wearing gloves can potentially promote a false sense of security in the event you touch something thinking it’s safe while wearing them and then inadvertently touch your face.

Along with Dr. Berger, most medical experts agree that gloves are not necessary unless you are an essential worker (perhaps somewhere like at a grocery store) or a medical professional. 

Frequent and thorough hand washing is still recommended as the best defense against the virus, but for those who still want to cover their hands, some tips for best use include: 

1. Opt for disposable latex versions and throw them in the trash after each use. 

2. Wait until the last possible moment to put gloves on before going out. 

3. Minimize touching your face while wearing gloves. 

You can read the entire article from InStyle here.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

First alpha testing is complete!

Male doctor and female researcher testing GIDEON app

It takes a lot of courage to share a vision with users and critics, but the GIDEON team is in no short supply of that. In our recent alpha testing round, we opened up our brand new interface to medical experts from 25 countries who have very kindly shared their feedback on our successes and shortcomings.

What is alpha?

Quite simply, it is an early release of a major product upgrade. Our first alpha testing round focused on the display of our extensive database in a brand new ‘Explore’ module.

How did we do it?

We opted for feedback gathering mechanisms that support user independence and anonymity. This is different from a focus group, which is prone to leaving some opinions unheard. 

Our Trusted Advisors were a diverse bunch, consisting of 80+ medical professionals – from seasoned experts to students. Some testers have never seen our product before and others have been using GIDEON for years. 

The experience was scary, exciting, and necessary. We cannot thank our Trusted Advisors enough for their insight and valuable time spent exploring our new interface. The feedback has empowered a fruitful fine-tuning exercise, so if you are one of our testers – be sure to check out the implementation of your suggestions in the second alpha release!

Feedback

We are beside ourselves in anticipation of the release of the new interface (date to be confirmed soon) and based on the early feedback we know you are going to love it.

Here is a small sample of the comments we received:

This is a huge improvement. I very much like the general concept. The dark mode is also very nice.

Comprehensive.

Amazing work! So informative and pleasant to use.

Disease comparison is great. What a useful way to compare a differential!

I very much like the ‘fingerprint’ search concept for diseases.

The interface is easy to use.

Maps are amazing!!

Thoughtful, cohesive design.

Links to references are very useful.

What’s next?

We cannot wait to share this new experience with you all. It’s the same GIDEON data that you know and love, but like you’ve never seen before. 

If you are interested in a Bayes-powered Differential Diagnosis that uses one of the most impressive geographical medicine data sets in the world, sign up to test the all-new DIAGNOSE module. The second alpha is just around the corner!

Become our trusted advisor

Estimating the True Case-Fatality Rate of COVID-19

For several months, we have been inundated by reports summarizing incidence and mortality data for COVID-19, on both the national and global level. In a previous ProMED post I cautioned that “reported cases” cannot be equated with “total cases” without inclusion of individuals with asymptomatic of sub-clinical infection that do not seek medical care. [1] If a large segment of the population is found to be seropositive, we might conclude that the true case-fatality ratio of COVID-19 is lower than official data might suggest. A seroprevalence study reported this week seems to provide solid evidence that this is the case. [2]

A national survey of individuals identified IgG antibody toward SARS-CoV-2 in 5.0% of the general population of Spain. At the stated specificity of 100% and sensitivity of 98%, the true seropositivity may be estimated at 5.15%. Although factors which determine seroprevalence rates in Spain need not apply to other countries, the following chart extrapolates the potential impact of a 5.15% population seroprevalence on case-fatality data from high-incidence countries in the European Region, United States and China. [3]

The impact of future SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence surveys will largely depend in the quality of the test itself, the duration of immunity and protective role of the antibody, possible emergence of newer strains of coronavirus, and other factors. In any event, additional seroprevalence data will play a key role in planning our response to this pandemic going forward.

COVID-19 Reported vs. Estimated cases

Country Reported cases % of population Reported Deaths CFR (%)* Estimated cases** Estimated CFR (%)***
Belgium 55,280 0.48% 9,052 16.4 596,548 1.52
China 82,947 0.0058% 4,634 5.6 74,125,174 0.0063
France 179,569 0.28% 28,108 15.7 3,360,686 1.14
Germany 176,651 0.21% 8,049 4.6 4,313,197 0.19
Israel 16,617 0.19% 272 1.6 444,866 0.061
Italy 225,435 0.37% 31,908 14.1 3,114,329 1.02
Spain 277,719 0.59% 27,650 10 2,407,759 1.14
U.K. 243,695 0.35% 34,636 14.3 3,493,878 0.99
U.S.A 1,527,664 0.46% 90,978 6 17,034,349 0.53

* CFR = deaths / cases X 100
** True number of cases based on population seroprevalence of 5.15%
*** Adjusted CFR = deaths / estimated true cases X 100

References

  1. ProMED – What’s the denominator 20200228.7035438
  2. ProMED – Spain: seroprevalence study 20200516.7342334
  3. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (status as of May 17)

Can Cell Phones Carry COVID-19?

spray disinfecting phone from germs and viruses

It’s long been known that cell phones can carry a multitude of germs, bacteria, and different forms of fungi. With the arrival of the COVID-19 virus, it begs the question if it too can live on the surface of a phone and subsequently be transmitted to another person. 

A compilation of studies from across 24 countries over the past 13 years indicates that it is a very likely possibility. 

Although COVID-19 was not included in any of these original studies, the rapid rate at which it has spread throughout the world, and the increased and ever-growing physical attachment that people have to their cell phones, leads researchers to believe that phones could in fact harbor the virus. 

Our co-founder, Dr. Stephen Berger, who is double board-certified in infectious disease and microbiology, recently commented on this topic for an article in HealthDay

“Cellular phones are ideal vehicles for the virus of COVID-19,” he agreed. “They are repeatedly exposed to material exhaled from our mouth and nose and spend literally hours in our rather filthy hands. Viruses of this type are known to survive on plastics and stainless steel for two to three hours; on aluminum for two to eight hours, on cardboard and paper for up to 24 hours, and ceramic or glass for up to five days.”

While many experts suggest wiping down your phone frequently with a disinfectant and abstaining from sharing your phone with others, Dr. Berger says that it is our hands and not the phones that merit the extra attention when it comes to disinfecting. 

“Whenever these and other objects in our daily life are examined in the laboratory, a veritable ‘zoo’ of bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses are discovered. But the common denominator for all of these is the human hand that touches them, and then goes to our mouth or nose.”

Keeping your phone clean may help limit exposure to the virus, but even more helpful is to keep your hands clean with frequent washing and then away from your face as much as possible. 

You can read the entire article here

Did you like this article?  Find more of our latest content here

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

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