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Can long Covid lead to death? A new analysis suggests it could – Global Circulate

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It’s unclear whether the people who died had underlying health issues, whether long Covid was the cause of their deaths or whether it was a contributing factor.

The new data comes as state and federal health officials work to understand the significance and severity of long Covid, which may affect as many as 30 percent of people who contract the virus, according to studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Two years into the pandemic, relatively little is known about long Covid’s prevalence, how to diagnose it or the best practices for treatment.

“The overall risk factors for mortality with long COVID are going to be important and evolving,” said Mady Hornig, a physician-scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health who is researching long Covid. The CDC is still collecting and revising data, but NCHS has so far identified 60 death certificates that list long Covid or similar terminology — for example, “post-Covid” — in 2021 and another 60 during the first five months of 2022.

A spokesperson for the CDC said the agency is “working on identifying any deaths attributed to … long Covid-19” and plans to publish the numbers “soon.”

There is no test for long Covid, and the CDC and the medical community have no official definition. But health care workers across the country are diagnosing patients who have previously contracted Covid-19 based on a wide-ranging set of symptoms that often include fatigue, shortness of breath and brain fog. Researchers and scientists have said that between 10 and 30 percent of people who have survived a Covid-19 infection will develop long Covid. A CDC study released May 27 said one in five adults in the U.S. may develop the condition.

Still, it’s difficult to determine exactly how many people in the country have long Covid. The condition is not easy to diagnose, especially without a universal definition. Long Covid can impact multiple organ systems and what may be a long Covid symptom for one patient may not be for another.

The muddied diagnosis process has made it harder for researchers to study long Covid. Dozens of hospitals and medical clinics are accepting patients with long Covid symptoms for treatment and trying to use that data to better understand the condition and why it manifests itself in some who have previously contracted the virus but not others. The National Institutes of Health is overseeing the largest national study of long Covid.

In October 2021, after CDC approval, hospitals and medical facilities in the U.S. began tracking patients exhibiting long Covid symptoms with a specific identification known as an ICD-10 code. That coding system, used for most reportable illnesses, has helped researchers narrow which group of people to study.

However, in almost all instances, long Covid sample populations are limited, constraining researchers’ ability to understand how the condition impacts different people.

“There is a significant underdetection of long Covid,” said Sairam Parthasarathy, chief of the pulmonary division at the University of Arizona’s medical school and one of the leads on its long Covid study. “It ties into health literacy … of someone being aware that they have a medical problem. If someone feels that they don’t have a medical problem, sometimes they may not seek care.”

Socioeconomic factors also come into play, Parthasarathy said, including whether someone has the resources and time to go to the doctor.

There is no set wording or terminology that hospitals use on death certificates — the CDC has yet to issue guidance. So, no official estimates exist for long Covid deaths.

Very few studies have examined the relationship between long Covid and mortality. But one November 2021 study of European cancer patients, published in The Lancet, showed a relationship between long Covid and morbidity of the sample population. The study found that about 15 percent of those who survived Covid-19 had long Covid symptoms and their survival outcomes were significantly worse. It also found that those individuals were more likely to discontinue systemic anti-cancer therapy permanently.

“It certainly is possible and probable that someone who was sick from Covid develop complications after Covid and die of long Covid,” said Jerry Krishnan, a pulmonary physician at the University of Illinois Chicago who is leading the institution’s long Covid clinical study. “I have not seen the data. But I have heard that people have developed heart or lung or brain complications after having had Covid. And eventually they have died.”

The CDC analysis is pulling death certificates that have words like “long Covid” or “post Covid,” which could indicate that someone has died as a result of the condition. NCHS conducted a similar review of death certificates when the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020. The CDC eventually issued a notice for health care providers to use a specific code for deaths that could be attributed to Covid-19. It allowed federal and local researchers to study how and whether the virus caused severe disease in some groups more than others.

Although there’s no death certificate code for long Covid, Parthasarathy said it is possible to rely on what the medical community already knows about how severe disease from Covid-19 affects different populations to get a sense of long Covid’s effects on those same groups of people.

“We know that people of color were disproportionately affected by Covid disease as opposed to just mild SARS-CoV-2 infection. And we know that people who are hospitalized with Covid are more likely to have long Covid,” he said, adding that he recently sat in on a presentation with NCHS that indicated people of color had a higher prevalence of long Covid. “When they showed those numbers … it was like, ‘of course.’ We were able to connect the dots.”

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COVID-19 vaccines saved 20M lives in 1st year, scientists say – CTV News

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Nearly 20 million lives were saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year, but even more deaths could have been prevented if international targets for the shots had been reached, researchers reported Thursday.

On Dec. 8, 2020, a retired shop clerk in England received the first shot in what would become a global vaccination campaign. Over the next 12 months, more than 4.3 billion people around the world lined up for the vaccines.

The effort, though marred by persisting inequities, prevented deaths on an unimaginable scale, said Oliver Watson of Imperial College London, who led the new modelling study.

“Catastrophic would be the first word that comes to mind,” Watson said of the outcome if vaccines hadn’t been available to fight the coronavirus. The findings “quantify just how much worse the pandemic could have been if we did not have these vaccines.”

The researchers used data from 185 countries to estimate that vaccines prevented 4.2 million COVID-19 deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, 631,000 in France and 507,000 in the United Kingdom.

An additional 600,000 deaths would have been prevented if the World Health Organization target of 40% vaccination coverage by the end of 2021 had been met, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The main finding — 19.8 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented — is based on estimates of how many more deaths than usual occurred during the time period. Using only reported COVID-19 deaths, the same model yielded 14.4 million deaths averted by vaccines.

The London scientists excluded China because of uncertainty around the pandemic’s effect on deaths there and its huge population.

The study has other limitations. The researchers did not include how the virus might have mutated differently in the absence of vaccines. And they did not factor in how lockdowns or mask wearing might have changed if vaccines weren’t available.

Another modelling group used a different approach to estimate that 16.3 million COVID-19 deaths were averted by vaccines. That work, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, has not been published.

In the real world, people wear masks more often when cases are surging, said the institute’s Ali Mokdad, and 2021’s Delta wave without vaccines would have prompted a major policy response.

“We may disagree on the number as scientists, but we all agree that COVID vaccines saved lots of lives,” Mokdad said.

The findings underscore both the achievements and the shortcomings of the vaccination campaign, said Adam Finn of Bristol Medical School in England, who like Mokdad was not involved in the study.

“Although we did pretty well this time — we saved millions and millions of lives — we could have done better and we should do better in the future,” Finn said.

Funding came from several groups including the WHO; the U.K. Medical Research Council; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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AP health and science reporter Havovi Todd contributed

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content

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ACIP Backs Moderna's COVID Shot for Kids 6-17 Years – Medpage Today

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The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend that children ages 6-17 years receive Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

With a 15-0 vote, ACIP endorsed a two-dose primary series of the mRNA vaccine for kids ages 6-11 years (50 mcg per dose) and adolescents ages 12-17 (100 mcg per dose). The recommendation now awaits approval from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH.

The recommendation was largely expected, and followed FDA’s emergency use authorization last week. Until then, only Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine had been authorized and recommended for these age groups.

At Thursday’s meeting, ACIP members considered safety and efficacy data on Moderna’s vaccine, which was primarily studied during periods where the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 and Delta strains were predominant, in teens and the younger kids, respectively. In both groups, the vaccine was effective against severe disease and hospitalization.

“We know that the benefits outweigh the risks for mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in all ages,” said Sara Oliver, MD, of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, during the meeting. “Receipt of this primary series continues to be the safest way to prevent serious COVID-19.”

Oliver emphasized that serious outcomes with COVID-19 do not spare kids. The Omicron wave was accompanied by a surge in hospitalizations among children, and she pointed to 189 COVID-related deaths in kids 5-11 years and 443 in kids 12-17 throughout the course of the pandemic.

Several ACIP members raised questions about the intervals between the first and second dose of the Moderna vaccine, as such an approach may reduce the risk of myocarditis associated with the vaccine. Some evidence suggests the Moderna vaccine carries a higher risk of myocarditis or pericarditis than Pfizer’s vaccine, though CDC experts cautioned that these findings are not consistent in all U.S. monitoring systems.

Among close to 55 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine administered to individuals ages 5-17 years, the rare adverse event has been observed in at least 635 children, according to the CDC. Risk is typically higher among children ages 12-17, in boys, and after the second dose. Among kids age 5-11, there were no signals detected.

In a presentation on clinical considerations, Elisha Hall, PhD, of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that although the current recommendation is for a 4-week gap between the first and second doses, the CDC will likely be recommending an 8-week interval for adolescent males. (The CDC also recommends shorter dose intervals for children who are immunocompromised.)

Some of the ACIP members expressed confusion about the product labels on Moderna’s vaccines in each age group. The product authorized for kids 6-11 will have the same color cap as the vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years, but a different color border to distinguish the higher concentration. For the product authorized for kids ages 12-17, it will have the same label as the adult vaccine, as it is the same dose.

“I am … concerned about vaccine administration errors,” said Matthew Daley, MD, chair of ACIP’s working group. Others echoed concerns about administration blunders, encouraging more resources for providers and further clarification on labeling from the manufacturer.

Safety and efficacy data for Moderna’s vaccine in this younger population came from two ongoing phase II/III clinical trials (study mRNA-1273-P203 for adolescents ages 12-17 and study mRNA-1273-P204 for kids ages 6-11 years). The studies included nearly 8,000 kids in total.

Among participants ages 12-17, vaccine efficacy was 93.3% (95% CI 47.9-99.9) during a time when the ancestral and Alpha strains were predominant. Among the younger group, vaccine efficacy was 76.8% (95% CI -37.3 to 96.6) during a period when Delta was most prevalent.

The committee agreed on the data that COVID-19 vaccines protect children against severe disease. Many children in this age group, however, remain unvaccinated. Approximately 30% of teens and 65% of younger kids have yet to receive a vaccine, according to Oliver.

“We can predict with future COVID-19 surges, the unvaccinated will continue to bear the burden of disease,” she said.

  • Amanda D’Ambrosio is a reporter on MedPage Today’s enterprise & investigative team. She covers obstetrics-gynecology and other clinical news, and writes features about the U.S. healthcare system. Follow

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COVID Rates Dropping; Vaccination Campaign Continues – ckdr.net

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Health officials in Canada are warning of a seventh wave of COVID-19 this fall, with a possible new variant.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon is the Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit and stresses they will be ready.

“Although the timing of an increase in COVID-19 specifically is difficult to predict, the Northwestern Health Unit will be prepared to offer large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations in the fall to protect our communities most vulnerable.”

She notes the vaccine remains the best way to stay protected and vaccines continue to be offered for those eligible.

The Health Unit is reporting 132 COVID cases confirmed through PCR testing.

One hundred of them are in communities under the jurisdiction of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon says numbers are lower elsewhere.

“Overall, there’s been a steady decrease in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 locally. Case numbers in most health hubs are low, as are our institutional outbreak numbers”.

The positivity rate is sitting at 11.2%.

Case count (Health Hubs):

-Sioux Lookout (on reserve): 100
-Kenora: 15
-Sioux Lookout: (off reserve): 5
-Dryden: 4
-Red Lake: 3
-Fort Frances: 3
-Atikokan: 2

There are 3 institutional COVID outbreaks in the region.

That includes one at the Pinecrest home for the aged in Kenora.

Recent testing showed 25 residents testing positive for the virus.

Day and overnight absences have been placed on hold for the time being, but one essential caregiver is allowed for each resident.

Meantime, the Northwestern Health Health Unit says it’s important to continue to get booster doses for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon says there is evidence that the first or second dose starts to drop.

“The vaccine protection does wane somewhere around the six month mark, maybe a little bit earlier or a little bit later, depending on the individual,” says Dr. Young Hoon.

“So its important to have some sense what’s going on, with respect to vaccination policy, and know when you might be eligible in the future for your next dose.”

She adds vaccination criteria hasn’t changed that much over the past few months.

“If its been more than three month since you had COVID then you should be looking to book an appointment for your booster dose. There is added benefit from and protection from a booster dose so you have significantly reduced risk of severe illness and decreased risk from being infected.”

Dr. Young Hoon expects fourth dose eligibility will decrease from 60 years of age and older over the next few months, and the vaccine for kids under the age of five should be available later this summer.

For information on vaccinations, visit Northwestern Health Unit

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