Neurological problems no higher after vaccination; depression, anxiety risk tied to COVID severity
The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.
Neurological risks not higher after COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 vaccination did not increase risks for rare neurological conditions among more than 8 million people who had received at least one dose of a vaccine from AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, according to researchers.
Their study also included 735,870 unvaccinated individuals who had tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as older data on an additional 14.3 million people from the general population for a baseline estimate of rates of the neurological conditions before the pandemic. Researchers looked for four neurological disorders involving the immune system. Three of them – Bell’s palsy (facial weakness), encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), and Guillain-Barré syndrome (a nerve condition) – were no more common in the vaccine recipients than in the general population, the researchers reported on Wednesday in The BMJ https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj-2021-068373. The fourth – transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord) – occurred too rarely for analysis (fewer than 5 cases in 8.3 million vaccinated people). The researchers did see increased rates of Bell’s palsy, encephalomyelitis and Guillain-Barré syndrome in COVID-19 survivors, however.
More research is needed to look for longer term adverse events of vaccination and SARS-CoV-2 infection and to study the effects of vaccines on different age groups, the researchers said. But it appears that COVID-19 vaccines are “a highly unlikely reason” for most neurological problems, they concluded.
Risk of depression, anxiety tied to COVID-19 severity
People who have been bedridden for seven days or more with COVID-19 are at increased risk of anxiety and depression, an international study found.
Researchers analyzed data from Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the UK collected between March 2020 and August 2021 on more than 247,000 people, including 9,979 who were diagnosed with COVID-19. Those who had COVID and were bedridden for at least a week had a 61% higher risk for symptoms of depression and a 43% higher risk for anxiety, for up to 16 months after their diagnosis compared to those who were never infected.
By contrast, patients who had COVID-19 but were never bedridden actually had significantly lower rates of depression than people who had never contracted the virus, researchers found. “This group may experience a relief after recovery from the relatively benign infection and are able to return to somewhat normal lives as compared to those not yet diagnosed with COVID-19, perhaps still fearing infection and therefore still limiting social contact,” said Dr. Anna Valdimarsdottir of the University of Iceland, whose team reported the findings in The Lancet Public Health https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(22)00042-1/fulltext. The results should alert clinicians to the possibility of long-term mental health symptoms in their patients who suffered severe acute illness from the virus, she added.
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine safe after heart inflammation
People who have had an inflamed heart muscle in the past can safety receive the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech without causing the problem to recur, a small study suggests.
The inflammatory condition, called myocarditis, is a common complication of COVID and other viral infections and has been a rare side effect associated with some COVID-19 vaccines, primarily in young males. But among 55 patients who had recovered from myocarditis within the past five years and who later received a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, no one suffered a repeat episode of myocarditis, researchers reported on Friday at the European heart meeting ESC Acute CardioVascular Care 2022 https://www.escardio.org/Congresses-&-Events/Acute-Cardiovascular-Care. Of the 55 subjects, 43 had received both doses of the vaccine and 12 just the first dose. Nearly all had received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, so the findings may not apply to other shots, the researchers said.
Still, the results “provide reassuring data that may encourage patients with a history of myocarditis to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2,” study author Dr. Iyad Abou Saleh of Hospices Civils de Lyon, France, said in a statement.
Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development.
(Reporting by Nancy Lapid and Linda Carroll; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
Women More Likely to Suffer Adverse Mental Health Effects After Stroke: Report – VOCM
A new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation shows that women are more likely to suffer adverse mental health effects after a stroke, and that services and supports are lacking.
The report, Stroke and Mental Health: The Invisible and Inequitable Effects on Women, was released on Thursday.
Dr. Clair Barefoot, clinical psychologist at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, says recovering from a stroke can take a big toll on people.
That, coupled with the additional roles women often take on—such as caring for children, can cause additional strain and force them to leave rehab early.
Barefoot says supports and services are generally lacking across Canada.
She says it is quite difficult and expensive for people to find personalized care, so she would like to see more psychologists in hospitals and more funding for the private sector so that people can access more of those services after they’re discharged.
Grail says over 400 patients incorrectly informed they may have cancer – The Globe and Mail
Cancer test maker Grail Inc said on Friday that its telemedicine vendor erroneously sent letters to about 400 patients suggesting they may have developed cancer.
Grail’s flagship cancer detection blood test Galleri is designed to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.
The company, owned by Illumina Inc, ILMN-Q said the letters were mistakenly sent by PWNHealth due to a software issue and that it “was in no way related to or caused by an incorrect Galleri test result”.
Grail said it had reached out to the patients immediately after the issue, adding that no patient health information has been disclosed or breached due to this.
The software issue being faced by PWNHealth has now been resolved, it said.
Illumina is currently appealing regulatory orders in the U.S. and EU, which are asking the gene sequencing company to divest Grail after it jumped regulators to close its acquisition of the cancer test maker.
Rates of infectious sexual diseases on the decline in region – CambridgeToday
Unprotected sex with more than one partner in a six month period is the biggest risk factor behind a recent rise in syphilis cases in Waterloo region, according to a report on infectious disease trends from Region of Waterloo Public Health.
The annual infectious diseases surveillance report gathers and analyzes information on the infectious diseases that physicians, laboratories and hospitals are required to report to the region’s public health unit in line with Ontario Public Health Standards.
Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that have the potential to cause serious illness and outbreaks.
There were 116 reports of infectious syphilis in the region last year, a rate of 17.8 per 100,000 population compared to 23.1 across the province. The number is down from a high of 143 reported cases in 2021, and a rate of 22.2 per 100,000 that was higher than the provincial average of 20.6.
The report says rates of syphilis, while lower than the province, have increased substantially in recent years, especially among females. This trend has also been observed in the province, which suggests a shift in epidemiology and sexual health practices.
The most common sexually transmitted infections in Waterloo Region continue to be chlamydia and gonorrhea.
There were 1,388 cases of chlamydia reported across the region last year, a rate of 192.8 per 100,000 population compared to 255.9 provincially. That’s down slightly from the age-standardized rate of 196.9 per 100,000 reported in 2021.
Gonorrhea case counts continued to spike across the province in 2022, while experiencing a slight decline in the rate of infection in Waterloo region.
Waterloo region reported 266 cases last year, a rate of 38.2 per 100,000. That’s compared to 77.5 per 100,000 province-wide.
Across the board, the demographic with the highest number of cases of sexually transmitted infections locally and across the province is the 20 to 29 age group.
Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, was declared a disease of global public health concern and became a newly reportable disease in Ontario in 2022.
There were only four local cases of mpox last year. Public Health says it has been monitoring the situation, working with health care providers to provide up-todate treatment guidance, and providing mpox vaccines to high-risk individuals.
The mpox virus is most commonly spread to people through close, physical contact with an infected person.
Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis were the most common enteric diseases in Waterloo Region in 2022. The local rates for enteric diseases were similar to or lower than those of the province.
Risk factors for enteric illnesses such as Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis include consuming undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products, ingesting contaminated food or water, and contact with infected persons.
Rates of vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were similar to those of the province. The most common vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were pneumococcal disease and pertussis (whooping cough).
In 2022, as we returned to normal activities, we saw a return of circulating respiratory viruses including pertussis with rates higher than had been seen during the first two years of the pandemic.
Public Health says immunization is the best way to prevent whooping cough. Pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for infants, older adults 65 years and older, and those at high risk from the infection.
Region of Waterloo Public Health undertakes a number of activities to prevent or reduce the burden of infectious diseases in the community.
Programs and services include case management, contacts and exposures for diseases of public health significance; inspections, investigations and outbreak management, including community outbreaks and those in institutions; health promotion activities and services for primary care providers, emergency service workers, childcare providers, and other community groups; and clinic-based services for sexual health, immunization, and tuberculosis screening and management.
Region of Waterloo Public Health says it will provide highlights of respiratory disease trends, including influenza, in a report to council this fall.
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