News Scan for Jun 29, 2022

Long COVID in women, middle age
;
Ongoing COVID-19 symptoms in kids
;
Universal flu vaccine trial

UK study shows long COVID more common in women, adults 50 to 60

Symptoms of long COVID are more frequently reported by women, those with poor overall health before the pandemic, and those aged 50 to 60, according to a new UK-based study in Nature Communications.

The study was based on results gathered from 6,907 people with self-reported COVID-19 from 10 population-based longitudinal health surveys in the United Kingdom that had been in place prior to the pandemic.

The proportion of participants reporting symptoms for longer than 12 weeks post-acute infection ranged from 7.8% to 17.0%, with 1.2% to 4.8% reporting debilitating symptoms.

Women were more likely to report long COVID symptoms compared to men, as were those with poorer pre-pandemic mental health and overall health. Participants who were obese or had asthma were also identified as more at risk for long COVID.

The authors compared these responses with electronic health records of 1.1 million UK residents in the spring of 2021, which showed that only 4,189 people also had a recorded long COVID code, constituting 0.4% of COVID-19 cases.

"While just 0.3% of COVID-19 cases had long COVID codes in primary care, up to 17% of adult COVID-19 cases in midlife reported symptoms attributed to COVID-19 for more than 12 weeks in longitudinal studies," the authors concluded. "Our findings justify further investigations into the role of sex difference, age related change, and/or immunity and respiratory health in development of long COVID. Older working individuals, with high levels of comorbidity, may particularly require support."
Jun 28 Nat Commun
study

 

Persistent symptoms common after COVID-19 in children, MIS-C

More than one in four children hospitalized with acute COVID-19 or COVID-related multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) experienced persistent symptoms or problems with daily activity for at least 2 months, a study across 25 US pediatric hospitals finds. It was published today in Pediatrics.

The study included 358 patients younger than 21 years who were hospitalized from May 2020 to May 2021. Of those, survey data collected 2 to 4 months after admission was available for 119 of 155 who had acute COVID-19 and 160 of 203 with MIS-C, for a total of 279 patients. Thirteen patients (11%) with acute COVID-19 and 12 (8%) with MIS-C required hospital readmission.

The researchers found that 32 patients (26.9%) with acute COVID-19 had persistent symptoms (22.7%) or activity impairment (14.3%) and 48 patients (30.0%) with MIS-C had persistent symptoms (20.0%) or activity impairment (21.3%). For patients with acute COVID-19, having more symptoms involved raised the risk of persistent symptoms 29% and the risk of activity impairment 37%. Patients with MIS-C and pre-existing respiratory conditions—mostly asthma—had triple the rate of persistent symptoms (adjusted risk ratio [aRR], 3.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.55 to 6.14) and obese patients with MIS-C more frequently had activity impairment (aRR, 2.52; 95% CI, 1.35 to 4.69).

Fatigue or weakness were the most common symptoms in both the COVID-19 and MIS-C groups, followed by cough and shortness of breath in the COVID-19 group and headache in the MIS-C group.

The authors conclude, "Our study highlights that, while most children recover, many children with both acute COVID-19 and MIS-C have persistent sequelae, and further follow-up to determine if these sequelae persist is warranted."
Jun 29 Pediatrics study

 

NIH launches universal flu vaccine clinical trial

The National Institute of Health (NIH) yesterday announced the launch of a phase 1 clinical trial of a universal flu vaccine, with a goal of enrolling up to 100 adults 18 to 55 years old.

Developed by researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), BPL-1357 is an inactivated whole-virus vaccine that contains four low-pathogenic avian influenza strains given in two doses.

Study participants will be randomized into three groups who will receive two doses of vaccine or placebo 2 weeks apart. The first will receive BPL-1357 intramuscularly with an intranasal saline placebo, the second will receive the intranasal candidate vaccine with an intramuscular placebo, and the third will receive intramuscular and intranasal placebo doses. The study will last 7 months, and researchers will examine blood and mucosal samples to assess immune response.

Matthew Memoli, MD, lead investigator, said in an NIH news release that the approach with the BPL-1357 vaccine is different than for nearly all other flu or other respiratory disease vaccines. He said with the intranasal approach, scientists are trying to prompt a comprehensive immune response that closely mirrors immunity following natural influenza infection. He added that the trial will allow the team to gauge the importance of mucosal immunity and if a strategy of inducing both cellular and antibody parts of the immune system can broaden protection against ever-changing flu viruses.

Also in the statement, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD, said flu vaccines that can provide long-lasting protection against a wide range of flu viruses, both seasonal and pandemic, would be an invaluable public health tool. He added that the trial performed well in preclinical animal studies, and officials look forward to seeing how it performs in people.
Jun 28 NIH news release

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