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Rabia Akgönül, Evrencan Özcan, Tamer Eren
Uluslararası Muhendislik Arastirma ve Gelistirme Dergisi, Volume 13, pp 448-461; doi:10.29137/umagd.865866

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, Louis T. Merriam, Alisa A. Mueller, , Jeremy R. DeGrado, Hibah Haider, ,
Published: 18 June 2021
STAR Protocols, Volume 2; doi:10.1016/j.xpro.2021.100545

Abstract:
This protocol aids both new and experienced researchers in designing retrospective clinical and translational studies of acute respiratory decline in hospitalized patients. This protocol addresses (1) the basics of respiratory failure and electronic health record research, (2) defining patient cohorts as “mild, progressive, or severe” instead of “ICU versus non-ICU”, (3) adapting physiological indices, and (4) using biomarker trends. We apply these approaches to inflammatory biomarkers in COVID-19, but this protocol can be applied to any progressive respiratory failure study. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Mueller et al. (2020).
Published: 18 June 2021
Vaccines, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/vaccines9060672

Abstract:
The BNT162b2 vaccine, containing lipid nanoparticles-formulated mRNA encoding the full-length spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, has been employed to immunize health care workers in Italy, administered in two doses 21 days apart. In this study, we characterized the antibody response induced by the BNT162b2 vaccine in a group of health care workers, tested at baseline, after the first dose and after the booster. Thirty-nine subjects without previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 were vaccinated with the BNT162b2 vaccine. IgM, IgG, and IgA anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) were tested by ELISA. Neutralizing antibodies were evaluated testing the inhibition of RBD binding to ACE2. Antibody avidity was measured by urea avidity ELISA. IgM anti-RBD are produced after the first dose of vaccine and persist after the booster. IgG and IgA anti-RBD antibodies are detected in high amounts in all the subjects after the first dose and further increase after the booster. A few subjects, already after the first dose, produce antibodies inhibiting RBD interaction with ACE2. After the booster, high levels of inhibitory antibodies are detected in all the subjects. Affinity maturation takes place with boosting and IgG anti-RBD avidity increases with the number of immunizations. A less pronounced increase is observed with IgA. These data indicate that the BNT162b2 vaccine can induce high levels of protective antibodies of high avidity in vaccinated subjects; both IgG and IgA anti-RBD antibodies are produced. Further studies are needed to evaluate antibody persistence over time.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22126558

Abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus deeply affected the world community. It gave a strong impetus to the development of not only approaches to diagnostics and therapy, but also fundamental research of the molecular biology of this virus. Fluorescence microscopy is a powerful technology enabling detailed investigation of virus–cell interactions in fixed and live samples with high specificity. While spatial resolution of conventional fluorescence microscopy is not sufficient to resolve all virus-related structures, super-resolution fluorescence microscopy can solve this problem. In this paper, we review the use of fluorescence microscopy to study SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses. The prospects for the application of the recently developed advanced methods of fluorescence labeling and microscopy—which in our opinion can provide important information about the molecular biology of SARS-CoV-2—are discussed.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126544

Abstract:
When a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) made major headlines in 2020, it further exposed an existing public health crisis related to inequities within our communities and health care delivery system. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, populations of color had higher infection and mortality rates, and even experienced greater disease severity compared to whites. Populations of color often bear the brunt of COVID-19 and other health inequities, due to the multifaceted relationship between systemic racism and the social determinants of health. As this relationship continues to perpetuate health inequities, the local health department is an agency that has the jurisdiction and responsibility to prevent disease and protect the health of the communities they serve. When equity is integrated into a health department’s operational infrastructure as a disease prevention strategy, it can elevate the agency’s response to public health emergencies. Collecting, reporting, and tracking demographic data that is necessary to identify inequities becomes a priority to facilitate a more robust public health response. The purpose of this paper is to present strategies of how a local health department operationalized equity in various stages of COVID-19 response and apply these methods to future public health emergencies to better serve vulnerable communities.
Published: 18 June 2021
Non-Coding RNA, Volume 7; doi:10.3390/ncrna7020037

Abstract:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), a member of the genus Betacoronavirus in the family Coronaviridae, possesses an unusually large single-stranded viral RNA (ssvRNA) genome of about ~29,811 nucleotides (nt) that causes severe and acute respiratory distress and a highly lethal viral pneumonia known as COVID-19. COVID-19 also presents with multiple ancillary systemic diseases and often involves cardiovascular, inflammatory, and/or neurological complications. Pathological viral genomes consisting of ssvRNA, like cellular messenger RNA (mRNA), are susceptible to attack, destruction, neutralization, and/or modulation by naturally occurring small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) within the host cell, some of which are known as microRNAs (miRNAs). This paper proposes that the actions of the 2650 known human miRNAs and other sncRNAs form the basis for an under-recognized and unappreciated innate-immune regulator of ssvRNA viral genome activities and have implications for the efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 invasion, infection, and replication. Recent research indicates that both miRNA and mRNA abundance, speciation, and complexity varies widely amongst human individuals, and this may: (i) In part explain the variability in the innate-immune immunological and pathophysiological response of different human individuals to the initiation and progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection in multiple tissue types; and (ii) further support our understanding of human biochemical and genetic individuality and the variable resistance of individuals to ssvRNA-mediated viral infection and disease. This commentary will briefly address current findings and concepts in this fascinating research area of non-coding RNA and innate-immunity with special reference to natural host miRNAs, SARS-CoV-2, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126573

Abstract:
The first wave of COVID-19 spread worldwide from March to May 2020. Italy was one of the countries in the world where the lockdown period was most prolonged and restrictive. To date, the impact of prolonged lockdown on pediatric traumas has not fully investigated. This paper aimed to analyze, and compare to 2019, the incidence and the fracture pattern in patients admitted to our pediatric hospital during the total lockdown period. A single-center retrospective study was performed. The data were gathered from the Pediatric Emergency Department (PED) of the Bambino Gesù Children Hospital of Rome (Palidoro). This PED is the pediatric referral center for Rome and the hub for pediatric traumas of the region. Any admission diagnosis for fracture, trauma, sprains and dislocation during the lockdown period (10 March–4 May) were included. The demographic data, diagnosis, type of treatment, fracture segment, bone involvement and time interval between trauma and presentation to the PED were recorded. In 2020, a reduction of total traumas and fractures, compared to 2019 (p< 0.001), occurred (81%). Superior limb and inferior limb fractures decreased in 2020 compared to 2019 (p< 0.05). The identification of pediatric traumas and fractures trend could be useful to reorganize the PED. Epidemiological data from the previous lockdown could be helpful to prepare the healthcare system for new pandemic waves. Moreover, sharing national statistics and correlating those to other countries’ protocols, could be helpful to solve problems in case of worldwide emergency situations.
Published: 18 June 2021
Vaccines, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/vaccines9060673

Abstract:
Recent reports of thrombosis following AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in young females (<55 years-old) led to temporary suspension and urgent investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that concluded that vaccine benefits still outweigh its side effects (SEs). Therefore, this study aims to provide early independent evidence on the vaccine SEs’ prevalence and their potential risk factors; a cross-sectional survey-based study was carried out between February and March 2021 in Germany and Czech Republic among healthcare workers who recently received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The study used a validated self-administered questionnaire composed of twenty-eight multiple-choice items covering demographic variables, medical anamneses, and local, systemic, oral, and skin related SEs of the vaccine. Out of the ninety-two included participants, 77.2% were females and 79.3% were from Germany. Their mean age was 35.37 ± 12.62 (19–64) years-old, 15.2% had chronic illnesses and 22.8% were receiving medical treatments. Overall, 94.6% of the participants reported at least one SE. The most common local SE was injection site pain (72.8%), and the most common systemic SEs were fatigue (73.9%), muscle pain (55.4%), chills (48.9%), feeling unwell (46.7%), nausea (45.7%), and headache (29.3%). The vast majority (91.9%) resolved within 1–3 days, and the below 35 years-old group was the least affected age group. The SEs’ frequency was insignificantly higher in females and previously infected participants; the vaccine safety for the elderly was supported by the early findings of this study. Chronic illnesses and medical treatments were not associated with an increased risk of SE incidence and frequency. No blood disorder SEs were reported in our sample. Further independent studies are highly required to evaluate the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine and to explore whether gender or previous infection could be associated with the vaccine SEs.
Published: 18 June 2021
Biomolecules, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/biom11060912

Abstract:
The ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease COVID-19 is significantly implicated by global heterogeneity in the genome organization of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The causative agents of global heterogeneity in the whole genome of SARS-CoV-2 are not well characterized due to the lack of comparative study of a large enough sample size from around the globe to reduce the standard deviation to the acceptable margin of error. To better understand the SARS-CoV-2 genome architecture, we have performed a comprehensive analysis of codon usage bias of sixty (60) strains to get a snapshot of its global heterogeneity. Our study shows a relatively low codon usage bias in the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome globally, with nearly all the over-preferred codons’ A.U. ended. We concluded that the SARS-CoV-2 genome is primarily shaped by mutation pressure; however, marginal selection pressure cannot be overlooked. Within the A/U rich virus genomes of SARS-CoV-2, the standard deviation in G.C. (42.91% ± 5.84%) and the GC3 value (30.14% ± 6.93%) points towards global heterogeneity of the virus. Several SARS-CoV-2 viral strains were originated from different viral lineages at the exact geographic location also supports this fact. Taking all together, these findings suggest that the general root ancestry of the global genomes are different with different genome’s level adaptation to host. This research may provide new insights into the codon patterns, host adaptation, and global heterogeneity of SARS-CoV-2.
Published: 18 June 2021
Viruses, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/v13061171

Abstract:
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is genetically variable, allowing it to adapt to various hosts including humans. Indeed, SARS-CoV-2 has accumulated around two mutations per genome each month. The first relevant event in this context was the occurrence of the mutant D614G in the Spike gene. Moreover, several variants have emerged, including the well-characterized 20I/501Y.V1, 20H/501Y.V2, and 20J/501Y.V3 strains, in addition to those that have been detected within clusters, such as 19B/501Y or 20C/655Y in France. Mutants have also emerged in animals, including a variant transmitted to humans, namely, the Mink variant detected in Denmark. The emergence of these variants has affected the transmissibility of the virus (for example, 20I/501Y.V1, which was up to 82% more transmissible than other preexisting variants), its severity, and its ability to escape natural, adaptive, vaccine, and therapeutic immunity. In this respect, we review the literature on variants that have currently emerged, and their effect on vaccines and therapies, and, in particular, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants must be examined to allow effective preventive and curative control strategies to be developed.
Published: 18 June 2021
Healthcare, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/healthcare9060754

Abstract:
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Brazil has grown rapidly since the first case was reported on 26 February 2020. As the pandemic has spread, the low availability of medical equipment has increased, especially mechanical ventilators. The Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS) claimed to have only 40,508 mechanical ventilators, which would be insufficient to support the Brazilian population at the pandemic peak. This lack of ventilators, especially in public hospitals, required quick, assertive, and effective actions to minimize the health crisis. This work provides an overview of the rapid deployment of a network for maintaining disused mechanical ventilators in public and private healthcare units in some regions of Brazil during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Data referring to the processes of maintaining equipment, acquiring parts, and conducting national and international training were collected and analyzed. In total, 4047 ventilators were received by the maintenance sites, and 2516 ventilators were successfully repaired and returned to the healthcare units, which represents a success rate of 62.17%. The results show that the maintenance initiative directly impacted the availability and reliability of the equipment, allowing access to ventilators in the public and private health system and increasing the capacity of beds during the pandemic.
Published: 18 June 2021
Healthcare, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/healthcare9060756

Abstract:
As a result of the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 and consequent restrictions in spring 2020, children in many countries might be engaged in more sedentary behavior and have limited possibilities to access the necessary level of physical activity to maintain their physical and mental health. The aim of this study was to explore the relationships between child sedentary behavior, physical activity, mental and physical health, and parental distress in a sample of Lithuanian children aged 6–14 years during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in March–June 2020. Parents of 306 children (52.9% female) completed an online survey in May–June 2020 and reported on their children’s screen time for educational and recreational (leisure) purposes, the level of physical activity and time outdoors, somatic symptoms, and emotional well-being and behavior. Parents also reported on stressful life events in the family and personal distress. The results revealed that 57.5% of children exceeded the recommended maximum of 2 h of recreational screen time per day, and 33.6% of the children did not meet the recommended guidelines of 60 min of physical activity per day. Longer screen time for educational purposes and parental distress significantly predicted a higher prevalence of somatic symptoms in children and parental distress also served as a significant predictor of children’s decreased emotional well-being and behavior. These results highlight the importance of psychosocial support interventions for parents who experience distress when raising children at a stressful time, such as during a pandemic.
Journal of Risk and Financial Management, Volume 14; doi:10.3390/jrfm14060277

Abstract:
This research is the earliest attempt to understand the impact of inflation and the interest rate on output growth in the context of Pakistan using the wavelet transformation approach. For this study, we used monthly data on inflation, the interest rate, and industrial production from January 1991 to May 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected economies around the world, especially in view of the measures taken by governmental authorities regarding enforced lockdowns and social distancing. Traditional studies empirically explored the relationship between these important macroeconomic variables only for the short run and long run. Firstly, we employed the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) cointegration test and two causality tests (Granger causality and Toda–Yamamoto) to check the cointegration properties and causal relationship among these variables, respectively. After confirming the long-run causality from the ARDL bound test, we decomposed the time series of growth, inflation, and the interest rate into different time scales using wavelet analysis which allows us to study the relationship among variables for the very short run, medium run, long run, and very long run. The continuous wavelet transform (CWT), the cross-wavelet transform (XWT), cross-wavelet coherence (WTC), and multi-scale Granger causality tests were used to investigate the co-movement and nature of the causality between inflation and growth and the interest rate and growth. The results of the wavelet and multi-scale Granger causality tests show that the causal relationship between these variables is not the same across all time horizons; rather, it is unidirectional in the short-run and medium-run but bi-directional in the long-run. Therefore, this study suggests that the central bank should try to maintain inflation and the interest rate at a low level in the short run and medium run instead of putting too much pressure on these variables in the long-run.
Published: 18 June 2021
Sustainability, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/su13126888

Abstract:
Spain has encouraged support to sustain entrepreneurs in the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, the usefulness of the functions of business incubators regarding the social benefits derived from enhancing the sustainability of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is studied in the context of the COVID-19 scenario. Due to the lack of academic literature on the subject, an analysis based on the application of structural equation models (SEMs) has been carried out using a theoretical framework built and empirically validated using a representative sample of Spanish entrepreneurs. The results show that, according to stakeholders, the functionalities of business incubators were oriented to drive entrepreneurial initiatives to have highly positive effects on society. This research evidences that business incubators are key mechanisms to make entrepreneurship, growth and economic development more sustainable in society.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22126551

Abstract:
COVID−19 is a pandemic respiratory disease caused by the SARS−CoV−2 coronavirus. The worldwide epidemiologic data showed higher mortality in males compared to females, suggesting a hypothesis about the protective effect of estrogens against severe disease progression with the ultimate end being patient’s death. This article summarizes the current knowledge regarding the potential effect of estrogens and other modulators of estrogen receptors on COVID−19. While estrogen receptor activation shows complex effects on the patient’s organism, such as an influence on the cardiovascular/pulmonary/immune system which includes lower production of cytokines responsible for the cytokine storm, the receptor-independent effects directly inhibits viral replication. Furthermore, it inhibits the interaction of IL−6 with its receptor complex. Interestingly, in addition to natural hormones, phytestrogens and even synthetic molecules are able to interact with the estrogen receptor and exhibit some anti-COVID−19 activity. From this point of view, estrogen receptor modulators have the potential to be included in the anti-COVID−19 therapeutic arsenal.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22126574

Abstract:
Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) encompass a group of glycoproteins composed of unbranched negatively charged heparan sulfate (HS) chains covalently attached to a core protein. The complex HSPG biosynthetic machinery generates an extraordinary structural variety of HS chains that enable them to bind a plethora of ligands, including growth factors, morphogens, cytokines, chemokines, enzymes, matrix proteins, and bacterial and viral pathogens. These interactions translate into key regulatory activity of HSPGs on a wide range of cellular processes such as receptor activation and signaling, cytoskeleton assembly, extracellular matrix remodeling, endocytosis, cell-cell crosstalk, and others. Due to their ubiquitous expression within tissues and their large functional repertoire, HSPGs are involved in many physiopathological processes; thus, they have emerged as valuable targets for the therapy of many human diseases. Among their functions, HSPGs assist many viruses in invading host cells at various steps of their life cycle. Viruses utilize HSPGs for the attachment to the host cell, internalization, intracellular trafficking, egress, and spread. Recently, HSPG involvement in the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection has been established. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on the molecular mechanisms underlying HSPG/SARS-CoV-2 interaction and downstream effects, and we provide an overview of the HSPG-based therapeutic strategies that could be used to combat such a fearsome virus.
Published: 18 June 2021
Healthcare, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/healthcare9060747

Abstract:
Biomedical waste (BMW) management is an essential practice of healthcare professionals (HCPs) for preventing health and also environmental hazards. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become a global pandemic, posing significant challenges for healthcare sectors. A cross-sectional study was performed to assess the knowledge, practice, and attitude on BMW management among HCPs when taking care of patients with COVID-19 and associated with demographic variables. From Al-Ahsa healthcare sectors, 256 HCPs were selected randomly, of which 105 (41%) had excellent knowledge, 87 (34%) had good knowledge, and 64 (25%) had poor knowledge with a mean score of 13.1 ± 3.6. A higher mean score was (14.4 ± 3.2) obtained by physicians, and (13.6 ± 3.8) nurses than the other HCPs. Regarding practice, 72 (28.1%) HCPs used and discarded PPE while handling biomedical wastes. Additionally, 88 (34.4%) followed proper hand hygiene before and after each procedure and whenever needed. Physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists had a more favorable attitude than other HCPs. There was a statistically significant association found among knowledge level and educational qualification (p< 0.0001), gender (p< 0.001), and work experience (p< 0.05). Emphasis is needed to train all HCPs regarding proper BMW management during this pandemic to prevent infection transmission.
Published: 18 June 2021
Atmosphere, Volume 12; doi:10.3390/atmos12060784

Abstract:
Black carbon (BC) is of concern due to its contribution to poor air quality and its adverse effects human health. We carried out the first real-time monitoring of BC in Malaysia using an AE33 Aethalometer. Measurements were conducted between 1 January and 31 May 2020 in a university area in a suburban location of the Klang Valley. The measurement period coincided with the implementation of a movement control order (MCO) in response to COVID-19. The mean concentration of BC before the MCO was 2.34 µg/m3 which decreased by 38% to 1.45 µg/m3 during the MCO. The BC is dominated by fossil-fuel sources (mean proportion BCff = 79%). During the MCO, the BCff concentration decreased by more than the BCbb concentration derived from biomass burning. BC and BCff show very strong diurnal cycles, which also show some weekday–weekend differences, with maxima during the night and just before noon, and minima in the afternoon. These patterns indicate strong influences on concentrations from both traffic emissions and boundary layer depth. BC was strongly correlated with NO2 (R = 0.71), another marker of traffic emission, but less strongly with PM2.5 (R = 0.52). The BC absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) ranged between 1.1 and 1.6. We observed pronounced diurnal cycles of lower AAE in daytime, corresponding to BCff contributions from traffic. Average AAE also showed a pronounced increase during the MCO. Our data provides a new reference for BC in suburban Malaysia for the public and policy-makers, and a baseline for future measurements.
Published: 18 June 2021
Viruses, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/v13061168

Abstract:
This article reviews the current knowledge on how viruses may utilize Extracellular Vesicle Assisted Inflammatory Load (EVAIL) to exert pathologic activities. Viruses are classically considered to exert their pathologic actions through acute or chronic infection followed by the host response. This host response causes the release of cytokines leading to vascular endothelial cell dysfunction and cardiovascular complications. However, viruses may employ an alternative pathway to soluble cytokine-induced pathologies—by initiating the release of extracellular vesicles (EVs), including exosomes. The best-understood example of this alternative pathway is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-elicited EVs and their propensity to harm vascular endothelial cells. Specifically, an HIV-encoded accessory protein called the “negative factor” (Nef) was demonstrated in EVs from the body fluids of HIV patients on successful combined antiretroviral therapy (ART); it was also demonstrated to be sufficient in inducing endothelial and cardiovascular dysfunction. This review will highlight HIV-Nef as an example of how HIV can produce EVs loaded with proinflammatory cargo to disseminate cardiovascular pathologies. It will further discuss whether EV production can explain SARS-CoV-2-mediated pulmonary and cardiovascular pathologies.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126561

Abstract:
Reindeer husbandry is essential for the livelihood and culture of indigenous people in the Arctic. Parts of the herding areas are also used as pastures for farm animals, facilitating potential transmission of viruses between species. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, viruses circulating in the wild are receiving increased attention, since they might pose a potential threat to human health. Climate change will influence the prevalence of infectious diseases of both humans and animals. The aim of this study was to detect known and previously unknown viruses in Eurasian tundra reindeer. In total, 623 nasal and 477 rectal swab samples were collected from reindeer herds in Fennoscandia, Iceland, and Eastern Russia during 2016–2019. Next-generation sequencing analysis and BLAST-homology searches indicated the presence of viruses of domesticated and wild animals, such as bovine viral diarrhea virus, bovine papillomavirus, alcephaline herpesvirus 1 and 2, deer mastadenovirus B, bovine rotavirus, and roe deer picobirnavirus. Several viral species previously found in reindeer and some novel species were detected, although the clinical relevance of these viruses in reindeer is largely unknown. These results indicate that it should be possible to find emerging viruses of relevance for both human and animal health using reindeer as a sentinel species.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126566

Abstract:
This paper attempts to ascertain the impacts of population density on the spread and severity of COVID-19 in Malaysia. Besides describing the spatio-temporal contagion risk of the virus, ultimately, it seeks to test the hypothesis that higher population density results in exacerbated COVID-19 virulence in the community. The population density of 143 districts in Malaysia, as per data from Malaysia’s 2010 population census, was plotted against cumulative COVID-19 cases and infection rates of COVID-19 cases, which were obtained from Malaysia’s Ministry of Health official website. The data of these three variables were collected between 19 January 2020 and 31 December 2020. Based on the observations, districts that have high population densities and are highly inter-connected with neighbouring districts, whether geographically, socio-economically, or infrastructurally, tend to experience spikes in COVID-19 cases within weeks of each other. Using a parametric approach of the Pearson correlation, population density was found to have a moderately strong relationship to cumulative COVID-19 cases (p-value of 0.000 and R2 of 0.415) and a weak relationship to COVID-19 infection rates (p-value of 0.005 and R2 of 0.047). Consequently, we provide several non-pharmaceutical lessons, including urban planning strategies, as passive containment measures that may better support disease interventions against future contagious diseases.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126579

Abstract:
The Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has many psychological consequences for the population, ranging from anxious-depressive symptoms and insomnia to complex post-traumatic syndromes. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental well-being of healthcare workers, focusing on the association between hopelessness, death anxiety, and post-traumatic symptomatology. Eight hundred forty-two healthcare workers were recruited between 21 March 2020 and 15 May 2020. A specific questionnaire was administered to assess socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, together with psychometric scales: Beck Hopelessness Scale, Death Anxiety Scale (DAS), and Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS). Respondents with hopelessness scored higher in the DAS and DTS than respondents without hopelessness. Furthermore, death anxiety was identified as a potential mediator of the significant association between hopelessness and post-traumatic symptomatology. The impact of death anxiety should be recognized in vulnerable populations, such as frontline healthcare workers. Therefore, pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies could be useful to attenuate the negative psychological consequences and reduce the burden worldwide.
Published: 18 June 2021
Social Sciences, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/socsci10060233

Abstract:
While the precautionary principle may have offered a sound basis for managing environmental risk in the Holocene, the depth and width of the Anthropocene have made precaution increasingly untenable. Not only have many ecosystems already been damaged beyond natural recovery, achieving a sustainable long-term global trajectory now seem to require ever greater measures of proactionary risk-taking, in particular in relation to the growing need for climate engineering. At the same time, different optical illusions, arising from temporary emissions reductions due to the COVID-19 epidemic and the local deployment of seemingly “green” small-scale renewable energy sources, tend to obscure worsening global trends and reinforce political disinterest in developing high-energy technologies that would be more compatible with universal human development and worldwide ecological restoration. Yet, given the lack of feedback between the global and the local level, not to mention the role of culture and values in shaping perceptions of “sustainability”, the necessary learning may end up being both epistemologically and politically difficult. This paper explores the problem of finding indicators suitable for measuring progress towards meaningful climate action and the restoration of an ecologically vibrant planet. It is suggested that such indicators are essentially political as they reflect, not only different assessments of technological feasibility, but orientations towards the Enlightenment project.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126559

Abstract:
Varying dimensions of social, environmental, and economic vulnerability can lead to drastically different health outcomes. The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-19) pandemic exposes how the intersection of these vulnerabilities with individual behavior, healthcare access, and pre-existing conditions can lead to disproportionate risks of morbidity and mortality from the virus-induced illness, COVID-19. The available data shows that those who are black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) bear the brunt of this risk; however, missing data on race/ethnicity from federal, state, and local agencies impedes nuanced understanding of health disparities. In this commentary, we summarize the link between racism and COVID-19 disparities and the extent of missing data on race/ethnicity in critical COVID-19 reporting. In addition, we provide an overview of the current literature on missing demographic data in the US and hypothesize how racism contributes to nonresponse in health reporting broadly. Finally, we argue that health departments and healthcare systems must engage communities of color to co-develop race/ethnicity data collection processes as part of a comprehensive strategy for achieving health equity.
Published: 18 June 2021
Sustainability, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/su13126900

Abstract:
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the use of a face mask as a mandatory biosafety measure. This has caused problems in current facial recognition systems, motivating the development of this research. This manuscript describes the development of a system for recognizing people, even when they are using a face mask, from photographs. A classification model based on the MobileNetV2 architecture and the OpenCv’s face detector is used. Thus, using these stages, it can be identified where the face is and it can be determined whether or not it is wearing a face mask. The FaceNet model is used as a feature extractor and a feedforward multilayer perceptron to perform facial recognition. For training the facial recognition models, a set of observations made up of 13,359 images is generated; 52.9% images with a face mask and 47.1% images without a face mask. The experimental results show that there is an accuracy of 99.65% in determining whether a person is wearing a mask or not. An accuracy of 99.52% is achieved in the facial recognition of 10 people with masks, while for facial recognition without masks, an accuracy of 99.96% is obtained.
Maria Laura Bellone, Andrea Puglisi, Fabrizio Dal Piaz,
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Volume 558, pp 79-85; doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.04.056

The publisher has not yet granted permission to display this abstract.
, , Mercedes Abbate, Sofía Lage-Vickers, Elba Vazquez, Javier Cotignola, Juan Bizzotto,
Published: 18 June 2021
STAR Protocols, Volume 2; doi:10.1016/j.xpro.2021.100478

Abstract:
Differential gene expression analysis is widely used to study changes in gene expression profiles between two or more groups of samples (e.g., physiological versus pathological conditions, pre-treatment versus post-treatment, and infected versus non-infected tissues). This protocol aims to identify gene expression changes in a pre-selected set of genes associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 viral infection and host cell antiviral response, as well as subsequent gene expression association with phenotypic features using samples deposited in public repositories. For complete details on the use and outcome of this informatics analysis, please refer to Bizzotto et al. (2020).
Published: 18 June 2021
Vaccines, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/vaccines9060665

Abstract:
Even though vaccination programs have now started in earnest across the globe and in Qatar, vaccine hesitancy remains a barrier to effectively tackling the pandemic. Many factors influence willingness to take vaccines including safety, efficacy, and side effects. Given their proximity to research and education, university students and employees represent an interesting cohort in which to investigate vaccine hesitancy. The aim of this study was to assess the attitudes of Qatar University employees and students towards the COVID-19 vaccine. In total, 231 employees and 231 students participated in an online cross-sectional study in February 2021. Of the sample, 62.6% were willing to take a vaccine against COVID-19. Participants with or taking postgraduate degrees were more willing to take the vaccine compared to participants with or taking a diploma or bachelor’s degree (p< 0.001). Males had a higher rate of vaccine acceptance (p< 0.001). In the group that regarded flu vaccination as important, 13% were unwilling to take COVID-19 vaccine. There were no associations between willingness to vaccinate and vaccine/virus knowledge and social media use. Participants showed a high level of concern regarding vaccine side effects in themselves or their children. Two-thirds agreed or strongly agreed that they would take the vaccine if it was mandatory for international travel. Our participants were neutral to the origin of vaccine development. These findings, which represent data collected after the start of the national vaccination program, show that vaccine hesitancy persists in the Qatari population and that some groups, such as undergraduate students, could benefit from specific, targeted public health campaigns.
Published: 18 June 2021
Vaccines, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/vaccines9060666

Abstract:
Background: This study assesses the perceptions and acceptance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccination. It also examines its influencing factors among the healthcare workers (HCWs) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Methods: In this cross-sectional study performed in November and December 2020, a total of 1308 HCWs from two large academic hospitals participated in the Eastern Cape Healthcare Workers Acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 (ECHAS) study. Validated measures of vaccine hesitancy were explored using a questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to identify the determinants of vaccine hesitancy. Results: The majority were nurses (45.2%), and at risk for unfavourable Covid-19 outcome, due to obesity (62.9%) and having direct contact with individuals confirmed to have Covid-19 (77.1%). The overall acceptance of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was 90.1%, which differed significantly by level of education. Individuals with lower educational attainment (primary and secondary education) and those with prior vaccine refusal were less likely to accept the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. However, positive perceptions about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine were independently associated with vaccine acceptance. Conclusions: The high level of acceptance of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is reassuring; however, HCWs with a lower level of education and those with prior vaccine refusal should be targeted for further engagements to address their concerns and fears.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22126527

Abstract:
More than a year ago, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, with the world approaching its fourth wave. During this period, vaccines were developed in a much shorter period than thought possible, with the initiation of the pertinent vaccination. However, oral cavities have come under renewed scrutiny worldwide because saliva, a mixture of salivary secretions, pharyngeal secretions, and gingival crevicular fluid, have not only been shown to contain infective viral loads, mediating the route of SARS-CoV-2 transmission via droplet, aerosol, or contagion, but also used as a sample for viral RNA testing with a usefulness comparable to the nasopharyngeal swab. The oral cavity is an important portal for ingress of SARS-CoV-2, being an entryway to the bronchi, alveoli, and rest of the lower respiratory tract, causing inflammation by viral infection. Moreover, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, a host receptor for SARS-CoV-2, coupled with proteases responsible for viral entry have been found to be expressed on the tongue and other oral mucosae, suggesting that the oral cavity is the site of virus replication and propagation. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the aspiration of oral bacteria (such as periodontal pathogens) along with saliva into the lower respiratory tract may be a complicating factor for COVID-19 because chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes are known COVID-19 comorbidities with a greater risk of disease aggravation and higher death rate. These comorbidities have a strong connection to chronic periodontitis and periodontal pathogens, and an oral health management is an effective measure to prevent these comorbidities. In addition, oral bacteria, particularly periodontal pathogens, could be proinflammatory stimulants to respiratory epithelia upon its exposure to aspirated bacteria. Therefore, it may be expected that oral health management not only prevents comorbidities involved in aggravating COVID-19 but also has an effect against COVID-19 progression. This review discusses the significance of oral health management in SARS-CoV-2 infection in the era of “the new normal with COVID-19” and COVID-19 prevention with reference to the hypothetical mechanisms that the authors and the other researchers have proposed.
Published: 18 June 2021
Sensors, Volume 21; doi:10.3390/s21124202

Abstract:
The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes the disease COVID-19 has forced us to go into our homes and limit our physical interactions with others. Economies around the world have come to a halt, with non-essential businesses being forced to close in order to prevent further propagation of the virus. Developing countries are having more difficulties due to their lack of access to diagnostic resources. In this study, we present an approach for detecting COVID-19 infections exclusively on the basis of self-reported symptoms. Such an approach is of great interest because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to deploy at either an individual or population scale. Our best model delivers a sensitivity score of 0.752, a specificity score of 0.609, and an area under the curve for the receiver operating characteristic of 0.728. These are promising results that justify continuing research efforts towards a machine learning test for detecting COVID-19.
Published: 18 June 2021
Vaccines, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/vaccines9060674

Abstract:
Background: Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca are recently introduced vaccines to combat COVID-19 pandemic. During clinical trials, mild to moderate side effects have been associated with these vaccines. Thus, we aimed to evaluate short-term post-vaccination side effects. Methods: Cross-sectional, retrospective study using an online questionnaire was conducted among COVID-19 vaccines recipients in Saudi Arabia. General and demographic data were collected, and vaccine-associated side effects after receiving at least one dose of each vaccine were evaluated. Results: Our final sample consisted of 515 participants with a median age of 26 years. Most of the study participants were female (57%). Nearly 13% of the study subjects have reported previous infections with SARS-CoV-2. Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been received by 75% and 25% of the study participants, respectively. Side effects associated with COVID-19 vaccines have been reported by 60% of the study subjects, and most of them reported fatigue (90%), pain at the site of the injections (85%). Conclusion: Side effects that are reported post Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines among our study participants are not different from those that were reported in the clinical trials, indicating safe profiles for both vaccines. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the current vaccines in protection against SARS-CoV-2 reinfections.
Published: 18 June 2021
Animals, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/ani11061818

Abstract:
The public health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic have caused unprecedented and unexpected challenges for veterinary schools worldwide. They are grappling with a wide range of issues to ensure that students can be trained and assessed appropriately, despite the international, national, and local restrictions placed on them. Moving the delivery of knowledge content largely online will have had a positive and/or negative impact on veterinary student learning gain which is yet to be clarified. Workplace learning is particularly problematic in the current climate, which is concerning for graduates who need to develop, and then demonstrate, practical core competences. Means to optimise the learning outcomes in a hybrid model of curriculum delivery are suggested. Specific approaches could include the use of video, group discussion, simulation and role play, peer to peer and interprofessional education.
Published: 18 June 2021
Diagnostics, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/diagnostics11061114

Abstract:
Cardiac complications are among the most frequent extrapulmonary manifestations of COVID-19 and are associated with high mortality rates. Moreover, positive SARS-CoV-2 patients with underlying cardiovascular disease are more likely to require intensive care and are at higher risk of death. The underlying mechanism for myocardial injury is multifaceted, in which the severe inflammatory response causes myocardial inflammation, coronary plaque destabilization, acute thrombotic events, and ischemia. Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging is the non-invasive method of choice for identifying myocardial injury, and it is able to differentiate between underlying causes in various and often challenging clinical scenarios. Multimodal imaging protocols that incorporate CMR and computed tomography provide a complex evaluation for both respiratory and cardiovascular complications of SARS-CoV2 infection. This, in relation to biological evaluation of systemic inflammation, can guide appropriate therapeutic management in every stage of the disease. The use of artificial intelligence can further improve the diagnostic accuracy of these imaging techniques, thus enabling risk stratification and evaluation of prognosis. The present manuscript aims to review the current knowledge on the possible modalities for imaging COVID-related myocardial inflammation or post-COVID coronary inflammation and atherosclerosis.
Published: 18 June 2021
Biomedicines, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/biomedicines9060689

Abstract:
As a public health emergency of international concern, the highly contagious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been identified as a severe threat to the lives of billions of individuals. Lung cancer, a malignant tumor with the highest mortality rate, has brought significant challenges to both human health and economic development. Natural products may play a pivotal role in treating lung diseases. We reviewed published studies relating to natural products, used alone or in combination with US Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, active against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and lung cancer from 1 January 2020 to 31 May 2021. A wide range of natural products can be considered promising anti-COVID-19 or anti-lung cancer agents have gained widespread attention, including natural products as monotherapy for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (ginkgolic acid, shiraiachrome A, resveratrol, and baicalein) or lung cancer (daurisoline, graveospene A, deguelin, and erianin) or in combination with FDA-approved anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents (cepharanthine plus nelfinavir, linoleic acid plus remdesivir) and anti-lung cancer agents (curcumin and cisplatin, celastrol and gefitinib). Natural products have demonstrated potential value and with the assistance of nanotechnology, combination drug therapies, and the codrug strategy, this “natural remedy” could serve as a starting point for further drug development in treating these lung diseases.
Published: 18 June 2021
Journal of Clinical Medicine, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/jcm10122696

Abstract:
(1) Background: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) excretion in stools is well documented by RT-PCR, but evidences that stools contain infectious particles are scarce. (2) Methods: After observing a Corona Virus 2019 Disease (COVID-19) epidemic cluster associated with a ruptured sewage pipe, we search for such a viable SARS-CoV-2 particle in stool by inoculating 106 samples from 46 patients. (3) Results: We successfully obtained two isolates from a unique patient with kidney transplantation under immunosuppressive therapy who was admitted for severe diarrhea. (4) Conclusions: This report emphasizes that SARS-CoV-2 is an enteric virus, and infectious virus particles can be isolated from the stool of immune-compromised patients like, in our case, kidney transplant recipient. Immune-compromised patients are likely to have massive multiplication of the virus in the gastrointestinal tract and this report suggests possible fecal transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Published: 18 June 2021
Healthcare, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/healthcare9060755

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper was to compare the relative efficiency of COVID-19 transmission mitigation among 23 selected countries, including 19 countries in the G20, two heavily infected countries (Iran and Spain), and two highly populous countries (Pakistan and Nigeria). The mitigation efficiency for each country was evaluated at each stage by using data envelopment analysis (DEA) tools and changes in mitigation efficiency were analyzed across stages. Pearson correlation tests were conducted between each change to examine the impact of efficiency ranks in the previous stage on subsequent stages. An indicator was developed to judge epidemic stability and was applied to practical cases involving lifting travel restrictions and restarting the economy in some countries. The results showed that Korea and Australia performed with the highest efficiency in preventing the diffusion of COVID-19 for the whole period covering 105 days since the first confirmed case, while the USA ranked at the bottom. China, Japan, Korea, and Australia were judged to have recovered from the attack of COVID-19 due to higher epidemic stability.
Published: 18 June 2021
Life, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/life11060580

Abstract:
COVID-19 is a viral disease characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. Since then, researchers from all over the world have been looking for ways to fight this disease. Many cases of complications arise from insufficient immune responses due to low immunity, with intense release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that can damage the structure of organs such as the lung. Thus, the hypothesis arises that photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) with the use of a low-level laser (LLLT) may be an ally approach to patients with COVID-19 since it is effective for increasing immunity, helping tissue repair, and reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines. This systematic review was performed with the use of PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar databases with the following keywords: “low-level laser therapy OR photobiomodulation therapy AND COVID-19”. The inclusion criteria were complete articles published from January 2020 to January 2021 in English. The exclusion criteria were other languages, editorials, reviews, brief communications, letters to the editor, comments, conference abstracts, and articles that did not provide the full text. The bibliographic search found 18 articles in the Pubmed/MEDLINE database, 118 articles on the Web of Science, 23 articles on Scopus, and 853 articles on Google Scholar. Ten articles were included for qualitative synthesis, of which four commentary articles discussed the pathogenesis and the effect of PBMT in COVID-19. Two in vitro and lab experiments showed the effect of PBMT on prevention of thrombosis and positive results in wound healing during viral infection, using the intravascular irradiation (ILIB) associated with Phthalomethyl D. Two case reports showed PBMT improved the respiratory indexes, radiological findings, and inflammatory markers in severe COVID-19 patients. One case series reported the clinical improvement after PBMT on 14 acute COVID-19 patients, rehabilitation on 24 patients, and as a preventive treatment on 70 people. One clinical trial of 30 patients with severe COVID-19 who require invasive mechanical ventilation, showed PBMT-static magnetic field was not statistically different from placebo for the length of stay in the Intensive Care Unit, but improved diaphragm muscle function and ventilation and decreased the inflammatory markers. This review suggests that PBMT may have a positive role in treatment of COVID-19. Still, the necessity for more clinical trials remains in this field and there is not sufficient research evidence regarding the effects of PBMT and COVID-19 disease, and there is a large gap.
Published: 18 June 2021
Pollutants, Volume 1, pp 95-118; doi:10.3390/pollutants1020009

Abstract:
Microplastics are discharged into the environment through human activities and are persistent in the environment. With the prevalent use of plastic-based personal protective equipment in the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the concentration of microplastics in the environment is envisaged to increase. Potential ecological and health risks emanate from their potential to adsorb and transport toxic chemicals, and ease of absorption into the cells of living organisms and interfering with physiological processes. This review (1) discusses sources and pathways through which microplastics enter the environment, (2) evaluates the fate and behavior of microplastics, (3) discusses microplastics in African aquatic systems, and (4) identifies research gaps and recommends remediation strategies. Importantly, while there is significant microplastics pollution in the aquatic environment, pollution in terrestrial systems are not widely studied. Besides, there is a dearth of information on microplastics in African aquatic systems. The paper recommends that the governments and non-governmental organizations should fund research to address knowledge gaps, which include: (1) the environmental fate of microplastics, (2) conducting toxicological studies under environmentally relevant conditions, (3) investigating toxicity mechanisms to biota, and developing mitigation measures to safeguard human health, and (4) investigating pollutants transported by microplastics. Moreover, regulatory measures, along with the circular economy strategies, may help reduce microplastic pollution.
Published: 18 June 2021
Medicina, Volume 57; doi:10.3390/medicina57060633

Abstract:
Background: The association of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with hypertension has been one of the frequently discussed topics in current studies since hypertension was identified as a risk factor for coronavirus disease. However, no studies seem to be focused on the BP (blood pressure) in patients with hypertension after COVID-19. Report: This report presents the cases of five frail geriatric patients (avg. age 78.3 (±6.4) years) with sarcopenia and controlled hypertension (office BP < 140 mmHg) who were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2. Findings: Control ABPM performed after COVID-19 showed that these hypertensive patients were hypotensive and that the previously well-established therapy was suddenly too intensive for them. Conclusions: These findings suggest that BP control after COVID-19 is needed and that ABPM is, particularly in frail geriatric patients, by no means a luxury but a necessity.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126563

Abstract:
In this paper, we develop a forecasting model for the spread of COVID-19 infection at a provincial (i.e., EU NUTS-3) level in Italy by using official data from the Italian Ministry of Health integrated with data extracted from daily official press conferences of regional authorities and local newspaper websites. This data integration is needed as COVID-19 death data are not available at the NUTS-3 level from official open data channels. An adjusted time-dependent SIRD model is used to predict the behavior of the epidemic; specifically, the number of susceptible, infected, deceased, recovered people and epidemiological parameters. Predictive model performance is evaluated using comparison with real data.
Published: 18 June 2021
Brain Sciences, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/brainsci11060808

Abstract:
Background: When COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic, many countries imposed severe lockdowns that changed families’ routines and negatively impacted on parents’ and children’s mental health. Several studies on families with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) revealed that lockdown increased the difficulties faced by individuals with ASD, as well as parental distress. No studies have analyzed the interplay between parental distress, children’s emotional responses, and adaptive behaviors in children with ASD considering the period of the mandatory lockdown. Furthermore, we compared families with children on the spectrum and families with typically developing (TD) children in terms of their distress, children’s emotional responses, and behavioral adaptation. Methods: In this study, 120 parents of children aged 5–10 years (53 with ASD) participated. Results: In the four tested models, children’s positive and negative emotional responses mediated the impact of parental distress on children’s playing activities. In the ASD group, parents reported that their children expressed more positive emotions, but fewer playing activities, than TD children. Families with children on the spectrum reported greater behavioral problems during the lockdown and more parental distress. Conclusions: Our findings inform the interventions designed for parents to reduce distress and to develop coping strategies to better manage the caregiver–child relationship.
Published: 18 June 2021
Polymers, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/polym13121998

Abstract:
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, has accelerated the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) masks as one of the methods to reduce and/or eliminate transmission of the coronavirus across communities. Despite the availability of different coronavirus vaccines, it is still recommended by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and local authorities to apply public safety measures including maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks. This includes individuals who have been fully vaccinated. Remarkable increase in scientific studies, along with manufacturing-related research and development investigations, have been performed in an attempt to provide better PPE solutions during the pandemic. Recent literature has estimated the filtration efficiency (FE) of face masks and respirators shedding the light on specific targeted parameters that investigators can measure, detect, evaluate, and provide reliable data with consistent results. This review showed the variability in testing protocols and FE evaluation methods of different face mask materials and/or brands. In addition to the safety requirements needed to perform aerosol viral filtration tests, one of the main challenges researchers currently face is the inability to simulate or mimic true aerosol filtration scenarios via laboratory experiments, field tests, and in vitro/in vivo investigations. Moreover, the FE through the mask can be influenced by different filtration mechanisms, environmental parameters, filtration material properties, number of layers used, packing density, fiber charge density, fiber diameter, aerosol type and particle size, aerosol face velocity and concentration loadings, and infectious concentrations generated due to different human activities. These parameters are not fully understood and constrain the design, production, efficacy, and efficiency of face masks.
Published: 18 June 2021
Sustainability, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/su13126884

Abstract:
The profound impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global tourism activity and the hospitality industry has rendered statistical approaches on tourism-demand forecasting obsolete. Furthermore, literature review shows the absence of studies on the supply chain in the HoReCa (hotel, restaurant, catering) sector from a sustainability perspective that also addresses economic and social aspects, and not only environmental ones. In this context, the objective of this article is to carry out a prospective analysis on how the changes in the behaviour of consumers during the pandemic and the uncertainties regarding the exit from the health emergency can give rise to social trends with a high impact on the HoReCa sector in the coming years and, specifically, how they will affect the HoReCa supply chain. In the absence of investigations due to the proximity of what has happened, public sources and reports of international relevance have been identified and analysed from the future studies and strategic and competitive intelligence disciplines. The HoReCa sector in Spain has been chosen as field of observation. This analysis draws the future of the HoReCa sector, describes the changes in customer behaviour regarding food and beverages, explains the changes in distribution chains, and reflects on the impact of potential scenarios on the sector. The confluence of all these changes and trends can even configure a new supply chain in the hospitality sector with the emergence of new actors and the increase of access routes to a new final customer for whom security prevails in all its dimensions: physical, emotional, economic, and digital.
Published: 18 June 2021
Education Sciences, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/educsci11060302

Abstract:
Due to COVID-19, many countries implemented emergency plans, such as lockdown and school closures. This new situation has significantly affected families, namely, the involvement required to support children’s learning at home. The current study aimed to analyze Portuguese parents’ perceptions of their home-based parental involvement in their children’s learning during the lockdown and school closures in 2020 due to COVID-19. An online survey, using a closed-ended questionnaire, was employed. Variables included parents’ sociodemographic and COVID-19 related characteristics; students’ sociodemographic characteristics; distance learning context; parental involvement; and students’ autonomy. Data were collected from a sample of 21,333 parents with children from elementary school to secondary education, and statistical data analysis was performed using IBM SPSS Statistics 26. Findings revealed that Portuguese parents supported their children during the pandemic mainly through the monitoring of attention in classes and task realization. However, several variables appear to significantly determine parental involvement time, which is higher when students attend public schools, when they are less autonomous and younger, when parents’ level of education is lower, when the child is a boy (except in secondary education where gender is not relevant), and when the online school time is higher. Findings highlight the need for a significant investment of time from parents, particularly of primary school children, making it difficult to cohere work or telework with school activities. Implications for policies, schools, families are discussed in order to promote children’s learning and success.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18126551

Abstract:
The overwhelming impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been experienced by individuals across the world. Additional circumstances unique to students affected their studies during the early stages of the pandemic, with changes in living and studying mid-semester. The current study aimed to investigate predictors of fear of COVID-19 in college students during this acute phase using cross-sectional and longitudinal samples. In total, 175 undergraduate students completed an online questionnaire in the spring 2020 semester following lockdown. A subset of 58 students completed a separate survey in fall 2019, which served as a baseline. For the cross-sectional sample, pre-COVID-19 and current living situations did not predict COVID-19 fears. However, a propensity to experience panic was significantly associated with greater COVID-19 fears. How students coped with the pandemic was not associated with COVID-19 fears, although a greater propensity to use denial as a coping style tended to be related to greater COVID-19 fears. In the longitudinal subsample, students showed decreased positive mood and social stress load while depressive mood increased after lockdown. Their preferred coping styles changed, utilizing more self-distraction and acceptance, and less self-blame and substance use. Findings reflect both positive and negative consequences of the pandemic. The unique changes in students’ lifestyles will need to be met by tailored interventions.
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