What we know about COVID-19: June 26

Becker's has compiled a non-exhaustive list of known characteristics, trends and treatments related to COVID-19, as of June 26.

Eight key COVID-19 facts:

The CDC's most recent list of symptoms linked to COVID-19 is: fatigue, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea to the list of symptoms linked to COVID-19, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficult breathing, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, and sore throat. The list doesn't include all the possible symptoms linked to COVID-19, the CDC said, and it will continue to provide updates.

The novel coronavirus "does not spread easily" on surfaces or objects, according to the CDC. The agency now believes the virus is primarily spread through the respiratory droplets of people in close contact.

Patients who recover from COVID-19 and then retest positive for the new coronavirus are not infectious and cannot transmit the virus, a study in South Korea shows. According to Bloomberg, Korean CDC officials studied 285 COVID-19 patients who recovered and later tested positive for the virus. Virus samples collected from the patients could not be grown from culture, which shows that the patients were shedding non-infectious or dead virus.

Droplets created when speaking can linger in the air for up to 14 minutes, a potential mode of virus transmission, according to a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers did not examine speech of people with the virus, but previous research has shown that coronaviruses can be transmitted via respiratory droplets. Researchers said they don't know whether all respiratory droplets carrying coronavirus particles are equally infectious, according to The New York Times.

COVID-19 antibody levels may start to decrease two to three months after infection, especially in asymptomatic patients, according to a small study published in Nature Medicine. Within eight weeks of hospitalization, 81 percent of 37 asymptomatic patients had decreased antibody levels, compared to just 62 percent of 37 symptomatic patients. The findings suggest asymptomatic patients may have a weaker immune response to the virus.

Black people are dying from COVID-19 at about the same rate as white people more than a decade older, according to an analysis of CDC data by Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution. Among people 45-54 years, Black and Hispanic/Latino death rates are at least six times higher than for whites. The age-adjusted COVID-19 death rate for Black people is 3.6 times that for whites, and the age-adjusted death rate for Hispanic/Latino people is 2.5 times that for whites. 

Dexamethasone cut deaths by 35 percent for COVID-19 patients on ventilators, according to a study cited by STAT. The steroid is the first therapy shown to possibly improve survival odds for critically ill patients, though the full study found it may do more harm than good for milder COVID-19 cases.  

The drug remdesivir is modestly effective helping patients with moderate COVID-19 infection recover quicker than patients not taking the drug. In its phase 3 trial, drugmaker Gilead found remdesivir helped patients with moderate COVID-19 infection recover quicker when they received it for five days, but the benefit wasn't statistically significant when the drug was given for 10 days, STAT reported. 

For a list of other COVID-19 treatment contenders, click here.

More articles on public health:
How COVID-19 affects the brain: 4 things to know
12 states with the fastest COVID-19 spread: June 26
Daily US cases hit new high; White House reconvenes task force — 6 COVID-19 updates

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