How common is stroke in people critically ill with COVID-19?

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A large, year-long study has found that among people with COVID-19 who were hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU), 2% experienced a stroke after they were admitted to the ICU. The preliminary study released today, April 15, 2021, will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 73rd Annual Meeting being held virtually April 17 to 22, 2021. The study also found that hemorrhagic stroke, a bleeding stroke, was associated with a higher risk of death among people in the ICU, but ischemic stroke, a stroke caused by a blood clot blocking an artery, was not.

“Stroke has been a known serious complication of COVID-19 with some studies reporting a higher-than-expected occurrence, especially in young people,” said study author Jonathon Fanning, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “However, among the sickest of patients, those admitted to an ICU, our research found that stroke was not a common complication and that a stroke from a blood clot did not increase the risk of death.”

Researchers used an international database of COVID-19 patients in 52 countries admitted to an ICU between January 1 and December 21, 2020. They identified 2,699 people who were admitted to an ICU for management of severe COVID-19 infection. Of those, 59 had a stroke. The people had an average age of 53.

Researchers evaluated the patient data at 370 hospital ICUs and found 59 people, or 2.2%, experienced a stroke during their stay in the ICU. Of those, 19 people, or 32%, had a stroke from a clot, 27 people, or 46%, had a bleeding stroke, and 13 people, or 22%, had an unspecified stroke.

Researchers determined that people who had a bleeding stroke had up to five times greater risk of death than people without stroke. However, people who had a stroke from a clot had no increased risk of death.

Of the people with bleeding stroke, 72% died, but of those, only 15% died of stroke. Instead, multiorgan failure was the leading cause of death.

“For people with COVID-19 in intensive care, our large study found that stroke was not common, and it was infrequently the cause of death,” said Fanning. “Still, COVID-19 is a new disease and mutations have resulted in new variants, so it’s important to continue to study stroke in people with the disease. More importantly, while the proportion of those with a stroke may not be as high as we initially thought, the severity of the pandemic means the overall absolute number of patients around the world who will suffer a stroke and the ongoing implications of that for years to come, could create a major public health crisis.”

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Homeless Americans finally getting a chance at COVID-19 shot

Homeless Americans finally getting a chance at COVID-19 shot

Homeless Americans who have been left off priority lists for coronavirus vaccinations—or even bumped aside as states shifted eligibility to older age groups—are finally getting their shots as vaccine supplies increase.

While the U.S. government has only incomplete data on infections among homeless people, it’s clear that crowded, unsanitary conditions at shelters and underlying poor health increase the danger of COVID-19 infections, severe complications and death.

COVID-19 outbreaks have been documented at homeless shelters in cities such as Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. Vaccinating in vulnerable areas will be a key to achieving herd immunity, the goal of building a barrier of protected people to stop uncontrolled spread.

“It was important for me to protect myself and the health and welfare of others,” said Cidney Oliver, 39, who got her first dose of Moderna vaccine April 7 at the Seattle YWCA shelter where she sleeps.

Wanona Thibodeaux-Lee, 43, has lived in several Seattle shelters while trying to get back on her feet, most recently at WHEEL, a 26-bed women’s shelter in a church basement. On April 5, she received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“I feel like I can move around without anyone getting me sick,” she said. “It’s good to know that I don’t have to go back for a second one.”

The single-shot vaccine is preferred by many clinics who serve homeless people and by homeless people themselves, said Bobby Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

The U.S. government on Tuesday recommended a “pause” in using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots. It is a temporary setback in the drive to vaccinate homeless people, forcing organizers this week to switch to other vaccines or postpone events.

Watts said he’s worried the pause will lead to more vaccine hesitancy.

“Assuming it is ultimately found to be safe and effective, it will be harder to convince people—especially people experiencing homelessness—that it is safe,” Watts said.

Seattle, with the third-largest homeless population in the U.S., has seen at least 1,400 of them test positive for COVID-19 and 22 die since the pandemic began. More than 100 shelters and other homeless service sites have had outbreaks. Seattle’s health department will switch to the Moderna vaccine for its planned events targeting homeless people.

Homeless people are at greater risk of being infected and greater risk of hospitalization and death than the average person, Watts said. Shorter lifespans—chronic homelessness can take 20 to 30 years off a person’s life—should have qualified them for vaccination priority much earlier, Watts said.

Instead, political pressure to vaccinate older adults moved them to the back of the line. Clinics serving them, Watts said, “were put in the unreasonable position of saying, ‘I know all of you are at high risk, but I can vaccinate only the few or you who are over age 70.'”

Now, that’s changing. With eligibility opening widely, homeless service providers are mobilizing to get vaccine to shelters and encampments.

In Nashville, 19 organizations have set a goal of bringing the vaccine to all homeless people by Memorial Day. In Salt Lake City, vaccinators offer incentives such as $5 grocery store gift cards or donated pizza. The Los Angeles Fire Department is delivering vaccine to the tent cities of Skid Row, MacArthur Park and other neighborhoods.

“Looking people in their eyes, telling them the truth about the vaccine … I love what I do every day,” said Melanie McConnaughy who works for Community Organized Relief Effort, a nonprofit that’s helping Los Angeles firefighters at mobile vaccine events. Her job is to answer questions and build trust.

She described a homeless woman, covered in tattoos, who at first said she didn’t want the shot because she didn’t like needles. Pointing to her tattoos, “we said, ‘How can you say you’re afraid of needles?’ She said, ‘You’re right, you’re right. I’m going to go tell my brother. He’s over there.'” Both siblings got vaccinated that day.

Vaccinating homeless people is good for the health of everyone, said Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Jose “Che” Ramirez.

“We’re all in it together. The more shots in arms the better,” Ramirez said. “The more folks who are vaccinated, the stronger we are in building herd immunity and the faster we can reopen our city and engage with each other like we were before.”

Giving outreach workers a unified message was important in Nashville, where organizers put together a one-page fact sheet about the vaccines in English and Spanish.

“Let’s please all sing off the same song sheet,” said Brian Haile, CEO of Neighborhood Health in Nashville. “This is Music City, so we have a vaccine song sheet.”

All homeless adults in Washington, D.C., became eligible for the vaccine in January, long before most states and before the J&J vaccine was available. The city has fully vaccinated more than 1,300 by giving out yellow bracelets printed with second-dose appointment dates as reminders.

The district also trained key shelter residents “so they could be ambassadors for the vaccine and talk about it to their peers,” said Dr. Catherine Crosland of Unity Health Care, a clinic system serving homeless people.

Walk-up vaccine events are crucial for a population with limited access to cars, cellphones or Wi-Fi, organizers say.

In Salt Lake City, the health department and a homeless clinic have given more than 1,000 doses of vaccine to homeless people. Pizza, candy bars, “whatever we can get donated,” helps keep people waiting if there’s a line, said Janida Emerson, CEO of Fourth Street Clinic.

“In our area, there are 10,000 people experiencing homelessness. We’ve got a ways go to. It’s a start,” Emerson said.

Even before the pandemic, homelessness had been rising across the U.S., with the biggest increases seen outside the shelter system—those people living on sidewalks, under bridges and in abandoned buildings.

The pandemic’s economic downturn uprooted people from their homes despite a moratorium on evictions. Cities closed crowded shelters to prevent infection, offering rooms in motels, but some shelter users who didn’t want to move to unfamiliar neighborhoods joined those on the streets.

How much the pandemic is further increasing the number of homeless Americans isn’t entirely clear. Many cities, under stay-at-home orders, canceled their annual homeless counts this year.

In January 2020, a one-night tally showed 580,000 homeless people in the United States. Advocates say that total should be multiplied by three to get the true scope of Americans using shelters and living on the streets.

In Seattle, it will take at least two months to get the vaccine to an estimated 575 housing, shelter and service sites, 85 unsanctioned encampments and nine youth service sites.

For Oliver, the pandemic was the least of her worries when she arrived in Seattle last month without family, friends or a job.

“Abuse, unemployment, losing everything,” Oliver said. “My life, it wasn’t that great. I was experiencing things prior to COVID that prepared me to deal with this pandemic.”




She says Seattle has been a good move so far. She found a job and is learning about housing options from the staff at Angeline’s, the YWCA facility where she keeps her top bunk neatly made.

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COVID-19 public health messages have been all over the place—but researchers can do better

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Persuading people to get a COVID-19 vaccine remains a challenge even as more than a 120 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose.

Public health officials have struggled to find persuasive and accessible approaches throughout the pandemic, from explaining where COVID-19 originated to how the virus spreads among individuals, along with steps to prevent its transmission, its inequitable impacts on people’s lives, and now relevant risks and benefits information about vaccines.

COVID-19 is not just a medical issue. It is also a social justice, economic and political issue. That makes it hard to figure out how best to share information about it, especially since messages come from a range of communicators—including elected officials, journalists, scientists, physicians and community leaders—and are delivered to diverse audiences.

And the science itself has been uncertain and evolving. New information can change what’s known almost daily, making clear, accurate communication a “moving target.”

As researchers focused on the science of science communication, we can suggest several communication strategies, based on a July 2020 report from the National Academies for Science, Engineering and Medicine, that encourage protective behaviors related to COVID-19.

Clear and open, even about uncertainty

Decades of research in risk communication show that people’s perception of their own risk is key to motivating them to take preventive measures. For that to work, public health messages must be clear, consistent and transparent.

One way to ensure that, especially for issues that have high uncertainty, like the pandemic, is for science and health messages to include context that connects the news to people’s concerns and prior experiences. What does risk or uncertainty about how the virus is transferred mean for the audience? How can they act on that information in their own lives? The “so what” of the message has to feel relevant. One approach, for example, is to emphasize how adoption of preventive behaviors—such as mask-wearing and hand-washing—leads to local businesses reopening and faster economic recovery.

Ensuring consistency in messaging, even for a rapidly changing issue, also means considering context—the bigger-picture processes shaping the issue. In other words, where do both the information and the uncertainty come from? What do scientists, policymakers and health care workers know or not know at this point? Then, most crucially, what are people doing to address that uncertainty and what can audiences still do to act in the face of it?

Tap into a crowd mentality

At various points during the pandemic, public health officials needed to persuade people to change aspects of their daily lives. To do this effectively, it helps to remember that people change their behavior and beliefs to better match what they perceive other people are doing—especially those they most identify with. It’s human nature to want to go along with social norms.

Health messages should avoid putting a spotlight on “bad” behaviors, since that can actually exacerbate the problem. Disproportionate attention paid to vaccine hesitancy or people refusing to wear masks, for example, gives the impression that these behaviors are more common than they actually are. Rather, attention to “good” behaviors, such as small business successfully implementing social distancing practices, can be more effective.

But even well-intended efforts to promote social norms, such as vaccination selfies, may provoke significant backlash, including jealousy, anger and feelings of injustice.

One way to avoid unintended backlash is to consider, before sharing, who is likely to see this message beyond the intended audiences. Are those who might see the message able to act on this information? If people can’t sign up for their own vaccination yet, a photo of a happy newly vaccinated person may make them feel angry and trigger negative feelings about systemic unfairness and resentment toward those who do have access.

Balancing the good news with the bad

The fear of a threat can motivate action. But a fear-based message often leads to people feeling helpless unless it’s paired with clear actions they can take to mitigate the threat.

Alternatively, hope is a powerful motivator, much more so and more consistently than fear or anger in many cases. Fortunately, for science communication in particular, surveys find that the majority of Americans remain hopeful about the promise of science to improve people’s lives.

Communicating hope can happen implicitly, through highlighting what does work and the benefits of actions. For example, clients following mask-wearing policies permitted many small businesses like hair salons to remain safely open.

What tends to be more common, especially in news coverage, is an emphasis on the negative—both in the current situation and in hypothetical futures and risks that could come if people don’t change course. You can see this focus in the coverage of gatherings that violate health regulations, like crowded beaches during spring break.

The weight of constant bad news reduces how equipped individuals feel to deal with a problem or avoid a risk. And this negative tendency can paint an unrealistic picture of an issue that has both wins and losses to report.

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Australia has 2nd likely AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine clot case

AstraZeneca US chief lauds new vaccine, dismisses blood clot concerns

AZ US President Ruud Dobber tells ‘Your World’ studies showed no significant clotting side effects

CANBERRA, Australia – Australian authorities have identified a second case of a rare blot clot likely linked to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Officials said Tuesday the woman is in her 40s and is in a stable condition. A 44-year-old man developed the same condition following an AstraZeneca injection March 22.

SHOULD PEOPLE VACCINATED AGAINST CORONAVIRUS STILL GET TESTED?

Australia has administered 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine since early March. That equates to a clotting frequency of 1-in-350,000 cases. British authorities say the risk of such blood clots has been 1-in-250,000 in that country.

Australia had planned to rely on Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca for delivering at least one dose of a vaccine to all eligible adults among its population of 26 million by October. But it said last week the Pfizer vaccine is now the preferred option for people under 50 because of the potential risk from AstraZeneca.

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Valneva’s COVID-19 Shot Set for Phase Three Trial This Month

PARIS (Reuters) – Valneva on Tuesday reported positive results for its COVID-19 vaccine in early stage clinical trials and said it planned to launch a Phase Three trial this month.

The French drugmaker, whose shot uses the technology behind its licensed Japanese encephalitis vaccine, tested its vaccine in 153 adults with three dose levels based on a schedule of two doses with vaccinations three weeks apart.

The vaccine, Valneva said, was “generally safe and well tolerated across all dose groups tested, with no safety concerns identified by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board”.

Valneva said the vaccine, for which the U.S. company Dynavax supplies an adjuvant, was also “highly immunogenic”, with “more than 90% of all study participants” developing significant levels of antibodies to the coronavirus spike protein.

“Based on the data assessed, the company has decided to advance the high dose into the phase 3 clinical trial. Other trials, including booster trials, involving antigen sparing doses will also be evaluated,” Valneva said.

The company added that it was working with authorities in Britain to review plans including for potential variant vaccine development and supply.

​Valneva has signed a deal with Britain for up to 190 million doses by 2025 in a transaction potentially worth up to 1.4 billion euros ($1.65 billion). The company is also in talks with the European Union to supply it with 60 million doses.

The company said it intended to submit the vaccine for approval in Britain in the autumn of this year and said discussions with other regulatory bodies were ongoing.

($1 = 0.8472 euros)

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Michigan officials investigating after 246 ‘fully vaccinated’ residents get COVID-19, 3 die: report

CDC: More than 4M vaccine doses administered in one day

Fox News medical contributor and Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Marc Siegel joins ‘America’s Newsroom’ to discuss new vaccine milestone.

As many as 246 Michigan residents who were “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 later tested positive for the deadly bug — including three who have died, according to a new report.

The group — whose cases were reported between Jan. 1 and March 31 — tested positive at least two weeks after receiving the last dose of the inoculation, a health official told the Detroit News.

“Some of these individuals may ultimately be excluded from this list due to continuing to test positive from a recent infection prior to being fully vaccinated,” Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said in an email Monday.

“These cases are undergoing further review to determine if they meet other CDC criteria for determination of potential breakthrough, including the absence of a positive antigen or PCR test less than 45 days prior to the post-vaccination positive test,” Sutfin said.

UK CORONAVIRUS VARIANT NOW REPORTED IN ALL 50 STATES

“In general, these persons have been more likely to be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic compared with vaccinated persons,” she said, adding that hospitalization data were available for 117 of the cases, while 129 were incomplete.

“Of the 117 with hospitalization data entered, 11 were hospitalized, 103 were not hospitalized, and three are reported as unknown,” Sutfin said.

The three people who died were all 65 or older and two “were within three weeks of completion of vaccination,” she said.

“While the majority of the population develops full immunity within 14 days of completion of their vaccine series, a small proportion appear to take longer to mount a full antibody response. CDC is actively working to better understand the risk characteristics of this group,” she added.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The newly released data emerged as COVID-19 cases in Michigan, which leads the nation in new cases by population, continue to rise and officials seek to boost jabs.

The state surpassed 700,000 cases Monday, according to the Detroit News.

Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she was increasing the state’s goal from 50,000 shots administered per day to 100,000 per day.

This article originally appeared on the NYPost.com

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South Korea Pays Price for Reliance on COVAX, Scrambles for Vaccines

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean authorities are facing a backlash for relying on global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX for a bulk of its COVID-19 shots as shipment delays threaten to slow the country’s inoculation programme.

Once praised by the World Health Organization for its decision to procure vaccines through the global scheme, South Korea is now facing criticism at home as the government scrambles to meet the supply shortfall.

South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are among countries to be hit by shipment delays to vaccines they have been promised following export curbs by manufacturer India.

In February, South Korea slashed its first quarter vaccination target from 1.3 million people to just 750,000 due to adjustments in the supply timetable of the 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine from COVAX.

The latest COVAX shipment disruption announced earlier this week – that it would only receive 432,000 doses instead of 690,000 and delivery would be delayed to around the third week of April – is the second time that South Korea’s vaccine rollout has been hit by delayed supply from the scheme.

“The government should no longer cause public anxiety with the vaccines,” Lee Yong-ho, an independent lawmaker who sits on parliament’s health and welfare committee, said.

“It should either impose export curbs on the locally produced vaccines until the supply uncertainties are resolved, or come up with a special vaccine procurement strategy and bring the originally contracted quantity as planned.”

South Korean health authorities said they were not considering restricting exports of locally produced vaccines, but instead, holding talks with vaccine makers and distributors to advance delivery timelines.

The efforts appear to be bearing fruit with the government announcing on Thursday that delivery of the 432,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX would be brought forward to Saturday from the third week of April.

“(We) have accelerated administrative process and were able to bring forward the schedule from what COVAX had initially informed us,” the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

The fluctuating shipment schedules have raised concerns about the country’s aim to immunise 12 million people by June, reaching herd immunity by November, but government officials have assured the goal is achievable.

“This is a very achievable target as we have factored supply schedule and our inoculation capability into the calculation,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a news conference on Thursday.

Assuming no further delays, South Korea is scheduled to receive 13.7 million doses in the second quarter — 6 million from Pfizer Inc, 7 million from AstraZeneca and 729,000 from COVAX.

Oh Se-hoon, opposition candidate for Seoul’s mayoral by-election, attacked the government this week for its slow vaccine rollout, which he said was the world’s 105th to kick off.

The slow rollout was partly due to the country’s early strategy to focus more on containing the virus through aggressive testing and contact tracing than striking bilateral vaccine deals.

While most wealthy nations had shunned joint purchases through COVAX, raising concerns over vaccine inequity, South Korea committed to procure vaccines from the scheme which earned praise from the WHO.

“The Republic of Korea despite being a high-income country that could easily afford to buy vaccines through bilateral deals has waited its turn for vaccines through COVAX,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on March 22.

Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, also lauded South Korea’s overall efforts to contain the COVID-19 disease.

He said the country not only developed a very successful surveillance and testing regime but exported those tests around the world, kept the disease under control in a very significant way, and have numbers of disease that are “the envy of the world.”

South Korea reported 551 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total infections to 103,639, with 1,735 deaths.

Despite international plaudits, some like lawmaker Lee said the slow rollout raises doubts about the government’s plan to reach herd immunity this year.

“With just 1.5% of the total 52 million population vaccinated, it is questionable with current supply when we will ever reach the herd immunity.”

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WHO says not to use ivermectin on COVID-19 patients

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The World Health Organization said Wednesday that ivermectin—touted by some on social media as a COVID-19 “miracle cure”—should not be used to treat coronavirus patients.

In response to the swirl of claims around the cheap anti-parasite drug, the WHO issued guidelines saying ivermectin should only be used on COVID-19 patients in clinical trial settings.

The UN health agency said there was a “very low certainty of evidence” on ivermectin’s effects on mortality, hospital admission and getting rid of the virus from the body.

Facebook posts and articles endorsing ivermectin have proliferated in Brazil, France, South Africa and South Korea as governments around the world struggle with vaccination programmes.

The pandemic has prompted a surge in demand for the drug, particularly in Latin America.

But in an update to its guidelines on COVID-19 therapeutics, the WHO said: “We recommend not to use ivermectin in patients with COVID-19 except in the context of a clinical trial.

“This recommendation applies to patients with any disease severity and any duration of symptoms.”

‘Ongoing concerns’

The WHO looked at studies that compared ivermectin against a placebo and against other drugs, in 16 randomised control trials examining 2,400 patients.

“We currently lack persuasive evidence of a mechanism of action for ivermectin in COVID-19, and any observed clinical benefit would be unexplained,” it said.

The drug has long been used to treat parasites such as head lice and for river blindness in sub-Saharan Africa.

The WHO recommendation was triggered by “increased international attention” on ivermectin as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

But the guidance said: “The effects of ivermectin on mortality, mechanical ventilation, hospital admission, duration of hospitalisation and viral clearance remain uncertain because of very low certainty of evidence addressing each of these outcomes.”

WHO experts stressed that the guidelines were not rigid and could be updated over time if further evidence comes to light.

But for now, “the low cost and wide availability do not, in the panel’s view, mandate the use of a drug in which any benefit remains very uncertain and ongoing concerns regarding harms remain”.

WHO fighting ‘unproven therapies’

Ivermectin is one of a string of medications tested as a potential COVID-19 treatment since the pandemic began.

Like anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine—so far unproven by clinical trials—ivermectin is widely available and relatively cheap.

The recommendation is likely to provoke fury and scepticism among the drug’s social media champions.

Often the rhetoric doing the rounds on social media for ivermectin is the same as for hydroxychloroquine: that the authorities are deliberately ignoring it because it is not profitable for the pharmaceutical industry.

However, its claimed benefits in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has not been proven in major clinical trials.

The WHO’s clinical management leader Janet Diaz told reporters: “We’ve been fighting this over-use of unproven therapies, especially some of the repurposed drugs in various parts of the world without evidence of efficacy.

“So it is always concerning because there can be more harm than any good.”

Furthermore, “It can take resources away from conditions that should be treated with these drugs.”

Diversion

Proponents of ivermectin, like those of hydroxychloroquine, often argue that it is already widely used—even for totally different purposes—therefore its use for COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.

However, Bram Rochwerg, methods chair of the Guideline Development Group (GDG) behind the WHO recommendation, told reporters that while ivermectin was a “relatively safe drug”, the dosing regimes used for other illnesses were not comparable.

“The other potential for harm… was a diversion of attention and resources from supportive care that we know works for COVID patients,” he added.

Without evidence of efficacy, the GDG felt “these other factors outweighed any potential for uncertain benefit”.

Last week, the EU’s medicines regulator likewise advised against using ivermectin for coronavirus outside clinical trials.

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Pediatric Bronchiolitis Admissions to ICU Fall During COVID-19

(Reuters Health) – Pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admissions for bronchiolitis plunged in Paris during the COVID-19 pandemic, a French study suggests.

Researchers examined data on bronchiolitis PICU admissions at five hospitals in Paris for all children under 2 years of age during the autumn-winter bronchiolitis season of 2020, as well as for the same period over the five previous years.

Over the five pre-COVID seasons, there were a total of 3,099 bronchiolitis admissions to the PICU, with 2,190 (70.7%) happening from September to December. Based on this trend, researchers predicted that there should have been 444 bronchiolitis admissions to the PICU for the same four-month period of 2020. The actual number of admissions was 65, however, 85.3% lower than expected.

“I firmly believe that the most likely explanation is a reduced contamination from bronchiolitis viruses – mainly respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – as a consequence of decreased human contacts elicited by all the public health measures that were mandated for COVID-19 including social distancing, mask-wearing, hand hygiene, curfews, and lockdowns,” said study co-author Dr. Ricardo Carbajal, chief of the pediatric emergency department at University Hospital Armand Trousseau, in Paris, and a professor at the Sorbonne University Faculty of Medicine.

It’s unlikely that the reduction in bronchiolitis PICU admissions was due to parents not bringing babies to the hospital or infants not getting admitted, Dr. Cabajal said by email.

“The monitoring of visits for bronchiolitis in the community, outside hospitals, also showed a marked decrease in visits for bronchiolitis,” Dr. Cabajal said. “Furthermore, since children have been spared by COVID-19, PICU beds were available for any child that needed intensive care.”

There were also no pediatric bronchiolitis deaths from September to December 2020, compared with a total of 19 deaths over the five precious seasons, the researchers report in Pediatrics.

The study results suggest that some hygiene measures used during the pandemic might also be deployed to help minimize the spread of respiratory viral infections and bronchiolitis among infants, the research team concludes.

While results from Paris, with about 20% of the population of France, are likely representative of what happened nationwide, the authors note, though it’s still possible that these results might not be representative of what occurred in other countries.

Even so, the results underscore that infection control practices implemented during the pandemic might be beneficial in the future to prevent RSV among children, said Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital and professor and vice chair of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“Infections with viruses like RSV in particular that are typically transmitted through direct contact between small children – have fallen dramatically during the pandemic,” Dr. Shekerdemian, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

Less contact leads to lower risk of transmitting or acquiring these infections, and the study results suggest that sanitizing, masking, and distancing are also effective for minimizing transmission, Dr. Shekerdemian added.

“After the pandemic, I hope that certain practices remain: these include of course hand hygiene, and in hospital or healthcare environments, masking becoming more routine,” Dr. Shekerdemian said.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2P9GZij Pediatrics, online March 17, 2021.

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The Truth About Whether Vaccinated People Can Spread COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine, it’s been a “learn as we go” kind of situation. Consider that at first, it was widely reported vaccinated individuals could still potentially spread the illness to those who had not received their shots. For instance, a December 9, 2021 New York Times story advised even if you were immunized, you should still wear a mask because it was unknown if you would spread the virus to others.

But now, the Centers for Disease Control is updating this information, noting that given more time, researchers have been able to determine vaccinated people are unlikely to pass on the infection that has forever changed our lives.

“Vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick, and that is not just in the clinical trials but it’s also in real world data,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky explained during an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show this week (via People).

Why vaccinated people are unlikely to spread COVID-19 to others

Of course, it is not impossible for a vaccinated person to get sick with COVID-19, with reports emerging that fully-immunized individuals have been infected (via Forbes).

But, as Dr. Robert Gallo, a virus expert at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told ABC News, “A vaccinated person controls the virus better, so the chances of transmitting will be greatly reduced.”

Data is encouraging, with current studies show less virus is present in the nose of a vaccinated individual. But overall, as People reports, getting vaccinated means you are 90 percent less likely to get infected two weeks after the second shot — so, less people are getting sick in the first place, making them less likely to pass on the infection.

It’s important to note asymptomatic infections in vaccinated people are still possible — so wearing a mask even after getting both shots is still highly recommended.

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