Strokes, seizures, memory and movement disorders among problems that develop in first year after infection
If you’ve had COVID-19, it may still be messing with your brain. Those who have been infected with the virus are at increased risk of developing a range of neurological conditions in the first year after the infection, new research shows. Such complications include strokes, cognitive and memory problems, depression, anxiety and migraine headaches, according to a comprehensive analysis of federal health data by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care system.
What are the chances you will contract Covid-19 on a plane flight? A study led by MIT scholars offers a calculation of that for the period from June 2020 through February 2021. While the conditions that applied at that stage of the Covid-19 pandemic differ from those of today, the study offers a method that could be adapted as the pandemic evolves.
The study estimates that from mid-2020 through early 2021, the probability of getting Covid-19 on an airplane surpassed 1 in 1,000 on a totally full flight lasting two hours at the height of the early pandemic, roughly December 2020 and January 2021. It dropped to about 1 in 6,000 on a half-full two-hour flight when the pandemic was at its least severe, in the summer of 2020. The overall risk of transmission from June 2020 through February 2021 was about 1 in 2,000, with a mean of 1 in 1,400 and a median of 1 in 2,250.
To be clear, current conditions differ from the study’s setting. Masks are no longer required for U.S. domestic passengers; in the study’s time period, airlines were commonly leaving middle seats open, which they are no longer doing; and newer Covid-19 variants are more contagious than the virus was during the study period. While those factors may increase the current risk, most people have received Covid-19 vaccinations since February 2021, which could serve to lower today’s risk — though the precise impact of those vaccines against new variants is uncertain.
Still, the study does provide a general estimate about air travel safety with regard to Covid-19 transmission, and a methodology that can be applied to future studies. Some U.S. carriers at the time stated that onboard transmission was “virtually nonexistent” and “nearly nonexistent,” but as the research shows, there was a discernible risk. On the other hand, passengers were not exactly facing coin-flip odds of catching the virus in flight, either.
For a glimpse into the future of SARS-CoV-2 immunity, scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) are investigating how the immune system builds its defenses against common cold coronaviruses (CCCs).
According to a new LJI study, published recently in Cell Host & Microbe, adults have stable memory responses of CCC-fighting antibodies and T cells, presumably derived from multiple exposures to CCCs in childhood. Thanks to this immune cell army, CCC infections in adulthood tend to be infrequent and mild.
These findings may be a clue to how immunity can build up against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and the leading researchers think the COVID-19 booster shots available today may be critical for long-term immunity.
COVID-19 was full of surprises early on, causing mild problems in the short term for some people and serious complications for others, according to the American Heart Association.
Long term, it may be just as capricious.
Studies are spotting potential heart and brain problems up to a year after infection with SARS-CoV-2, even in people who had mild COVID-19.
The possible long-term effects include “a myriad of symptoms affecting different organs,” said Dr. José Biller, director of the COVID-19 neurology clinic at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Illinois. “So, it could be the lungs, it could be cardiovascular, it could be the nervous system, it could be mental health or behavioral problems.”
Estimates vary widely on how many people may be affected. Research suggests about 10% to 20% of people experience mid- or long-term issues from COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization.
A new review of COVID-19 hospitalization data by researchers at The University of Toledo has found that taking immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C , vitamin D and zinc do not lessen your chance of dying from COVID-19.
Early in the pandemic, healthcare providers tried a variety of micronutrients as potential therapies for the new illness. More recently, supplements have been promoted by some as an alternative to the safe and proven vaccines.
However, Dr. Azizullah Beran said there’s been little evidence those strategies work, despite the enduring interest in them.
As omicron spreads across the country, some have wondered if they should just expose themselves to the coronavirus and get it over with.
Don’t do it, say Northwestern Medicine experts.
“You’d be crazy to try to get infected with this,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Murphy and other Northwestern Medicine experts explain why that strategy is high risk for you, public health and the economy. They also discuss population immunity, and whether it’s inevitable that you will contract COVID-19.
A study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital suggests that the APOE4 allele may also increase cerebral microhaemorrhages related to COVID-19 and associate with mental fatigue related to long COVID.
Roughly one-third of Finns carry the APOE4 allele, a genetic variant that predisposes carriers to Alzheimer’s disease. Globally, researchers have reported observations that show a link between APOE4 and COVID-19, both in terms of increased susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 mortality. Now, a research group at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) has investigated the link between the APOE4 allele and the severity of COVID-19 in the Finnish population.
The Clalit Research Institute, in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University, analyzed one of the world’s largest integrated health record databases to examine the effectiveness of the third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162B2 vaccine against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. The study provides the largest peer-reviewed evaluation of the effectiveness of a third “booster” dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in a nationwide mass-vaccination setting. The study was conducted in Israel, an early global leader in third-dose COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Many countries are currently experiencing a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 infections despite hitherto successful vaccination campaigns. This may be due to the greater infectiousness of the delta (B.1.617.2) variant of SARS-CoV-2, and to waning immunity of vaccines administered months earlier. In the face of the current resurgence, several countries are planning to administer a third booster dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
This study suggests that a third vaccine dose is effective in reducing severe COVID-19-related outcomes compared to individuals who have received two vaccine doses at least 5 months ago. It is the first to estimate the effectiveness of a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine—BNT162b2 specifically—against severe outcomes with adjustment for various possible confounders, including comorbidities and behavioral factors. The study’s large size also allows a more precise assessment of the vaccine’s effectiveness across different time periods, different subpopulations (by sex, age and number of comorbidities), and different severe outcomes (which are rarer and thus require greater sample size). A recent clinical trial conducted by BioNTech included a smaller sample size and did not estimate the third-dose’s effects for more severe outcomes.
Every October as surely as the leaves will fall, I go in for my physical exam and flu shot. This year was only slightly different. It was also time for my third Covid shot to boost my Feb and March ones.
This is always a somewhat uncomfortable day for me. I started with a bike ride. Nothing new, but I limited it to 10 miles. As I was getting blood work done, I had to fast. That meant no food to bolster my energy after a night of sleep and a bike ride. I needed to walk the dog also before heading out for the hospital.
Breathe in, breathe out. That’s how easy it is for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to enter your nose. And though remarkable progress has been made in developing intramuscular vaccines against SARS-CoV- 2, such as the readily available Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, nothing yet – like a nasal vaccine – has been approved to provide mucosal immunity in the nose, the first barrier against the virus before it travels down to the lungs.
But now, we’re one step closer.
Navin Varadarajan, University of Houston M.D. Anderson Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his colleagues, are reporting in iScience the development of an intranasal subunit vaccine that provides durable local immunity against inhaled pathogens.
To paraphrase Claude Rains in the movie Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to learn that … “
During the COVID-19 pandemic months of March 2020 to September 2020, U.S. alcohol retail store sales increased compared to usual trends while food services and drinking places sales decreased markedly during the same period, according to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. These results indicate an increase in home drinking in the U.S. The findings are published online in the journal Alcohol.
The researchers used alcohol retail store sales data of beer, wine, and liquor store (BWLS) purchases from January 1992 to September 2020 from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey, which provides sales estimates at retail and food services. Alcohol sales changes in the U.S. throughout the COVID-19 pandemic were used as an indicator of at-home drinking. Calculating variations in monthly sales enabled the authors to show annual differences in monthly BWLS sales between consecutive years from 1992 to 2020.
A new Cleveland Clinic-led study has identified mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. The findings, published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, indicate an overlap between COVID-19 and brain changes common in Alzheimer’s, and may help inform risk management and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.
Reports of neurological complications in COVID-19 patients and “long-hauler” patients whose symptoms persist after the infection clears are becoming more common, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) may have lasting effects on brain function. However, it is not yet well understood how the virus leads to neurological issues.
“While some studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infects brain cells directly, others found no evidence of the virus in the brain,” says Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., assistant staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and lead author on the study. “Identifying how COVID-19 and neurological problems are linked will be critical for developing effective preventive and therapeutic strategies to address the surge in neurocognitive impairments that we expect to see in the near future.”
In the study, the researchers harnessed artificial intelligence using existing datasets of patients with Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and those associated with several neurological diseases where closer proximity suggests related or shared disease pathways. The researchers also analyzed the genetic factors that enabled SARS-COV-2 to infect brain tissues and cells.
Vaccine negativity and reluctance didn’t just emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent study published in the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal, authors from Loyola University Maryland and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explored the appearance of negative dominance – a concept in which negative messages outweigh positive, solution-oriented messages in audiences’ perceptions – in the context of COVID-19 vaccine-related information and activity online.
Prior research has looked at media coverage to identify vaccine concerns among the public and its impact on vaccine-related beliefs and behaviors, the spread of misinformation and fake news on the Internet, and the role of social media in aiding vaccine hesitancy, among others. Surprisingly, however, research to date has yet to explicitly explore negative dominance of vaccine-related information online using more recently developed tools for analyzing big data.
In a new study from University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers have confirmed that patients taking statin medications had a 41 percent lower risk of in-hospital death from COVID-19. The findings were published July 15, 2021 in PLOS ONE and expand upon prior research conducted at UC San Diego Health in 2020.
Statins are commonly used to reduce blood cholesterol levels by blocking liver enzymes responsible for making cholesterol. They are widely prescribed: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 93 percent of patients who use a cholesterol-lowering drug use a statin.
“When faced with this virus at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of speculation surrounding certain medications that affect the body’s ACE2 receptor, including statins, and whether they may influence COVID-19 risk,” said Lori Daniels, MD, lead study author, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health.
“At the time, we thought that statins may inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection through their known anti-inflammatory effects and binding capabilities, which could potentially stop progression of the virus.”
A year after the first U.S. coronavirus deaths, UCLA sociologist Patrick Heuveline reports on the dramatic impact
As a demographer — someone who studies how human populations grow and change — UCLA professor of sociology Patrick Heuveline typically spends time each year traveling around the world, talking to people about their hopes for their families and their dreams for the future.
“Demography is obviously all about numbers — but at its core, it’s about people’s lives,” he said.
A big part of understanding demographics is understanding mortality, which is why in 2020 Heuveline’s research took on a grim new reality. He began tracking worldwide COVID-19 deaths and interpreting what those numbers mean to overall life expectancy.
April marks a somber milestone in the pandemic: one year since the U.S. recorded its first COVID-19–related deaths. As of the end of March, more than 2.8 million around the world, including more than 550,000 Americans, have died of causes related to COVID-19.
Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such cells could persist for a lifetime, churning out antibodies all the while.
The findings, published May 24 in the journal Nature, suggest that mild cases of COVID-19 leave those infected with lasting antibody protection and that repeated bouts of illness are likely to be uncommon.
“Last fall, there were reports that antibodies wane quickly after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and mainstream media interpreted that to mean that immunity was not long-lived,” said senior author Ali Ellebedy, PhD, an associate professor of pathology & immunology, of medicine and of molecular microbiology. “But that’s a misinterpretation of the data. It’s normal for antibody levels to go down after acute infection, but they don’t go down to zero; they plateau. Here, we found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after first symptoms. These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.”