COVID-19 vaccines may help prevent placentitis, stillbirth in pregnancy
COVID-19 vaccination may protect pregnant women and their fetuses against virus-related placentitis (inflammation of the placenta) and stillbirth, concludes a review study published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The research will also be presented next week at ID Week in Washington, DC.
The study, led by a Perinatal Pathology Consulting researcher in Atlanta, reviewed nearly 100 articles on the relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and SARS-CoV-2–associated placentitis and stillbirth.
Although placentitis can inhibit oxygen delivery to the fetus and lead to stillbirth or neonatal death, the vast majority of pregnancies in mothers infected with COVID-19 don't result in stillbirth, the team said.
The development of SARS-CoV-2 placentitis is multifaceted, the researchers said, and probably involves both viral and immune-related factors that may differ by virus variant. Unlike most intrauterine infections, which usually lead to stillbirth by directly damaging fetal organs, SARS-CoV-2 tissue damage appears limited to the placenta, the researchers said.
"Because the tissue pathology related to COVID-19 appears to be most prominent in the placenta, where it is highly destructive, it may be possible that effective vaccination of pregnant women can either decrease the severity or even inhibit the development of SARS-CoV-2 placentitis," the authors wrote. "Thus, maternal vaccination for COVID-19 may be live-saving for the fetus as well as the mother."
In a news release from Children's National Hospital in Washington, DC, lead author David Schwartz, MD, of Perinatal Pathology Consulting, noted that none of the mothers described in multiple reports on SARS-CoV-2 placentitis, stillbirth, and neonatal death were vaccinated against COVID-19.
"And although not constituting proof, we're not aware, either personally, via collegial networks, or in the published literature, of any cases of SARS-CoV-2 placentitis causing stillbirths among pregnant women having received the COVID-19 vaccine," he said.
Oct 12 Am J Obstet Gynecol study
Oct 12 Children's National news release
Analysis shows COVID-19 preprint studies hold up to peer review
A new analysis of COVID-19 preprints shows that many studies hold up to peer review when the research is reviewed later, according to a study yesterday in The Lancet Global Health.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the first time biomedical researchers embraced online non–peer-reviewed preprints on a large scale, the authors explained, as delaying information during the months-long peer review process could have dire consequences during a novel pandemic.
To see if the preprints held up to scrutiny, University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison researchers chose at random 100 COVID-19 studies that had been posted as preprints, then later subjected to peer review and successfully published by journals.
The main outcome was to see how peer reviewed affected four data points: infection-fatality rates and case-fatality rates, basic viral reproduction rates (how many people an infected person is expected to infect) and disease incidence (the number of new people infected in a given time). The researchers investigated more than 1,606 data points.
The authors found that 90% of preprint data points were still included after peer review, and confidence intervals tightened by 7% after peer review, but the change was not statistically significant.
"Wild swings between preprint and published versions would be hard to explain," said senior author B. Ian Hutchins, PhD, a professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Information School, in a press release. "But that's not what we see. There's not a whole lot of change in the data reported and the estimates based on that data,"
Oct 11 Lancet Glob Health study
Oct 11 UW-Madison press release
Global monkeypox cases decline, but Americas remain the hot spot
At the global level, monkeypox cases continue to fall, but levels are rising in 21 countries, mostly in the Americas, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said today at a briefing.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, the WHO's director-general, said cases in the Americas account for about 90% of infections reported last week. He warned countries to keep their guard up as cases decline. He also added that the WHO is worried about reports of cases in Sudan, including in refugee camps near the Ethiopian border.
So far, more than 70,000 cases have been reported to the WHO, including 26 deaths. Brazil this week reported its fifth death in a person diagnosed as having monkeypox, a 31-year-old man from Rio de Janeiro state who had been hospitalized since Sep 16, according to Agencia Brasil.
Meanwhile, at a briefing today of the WHO's Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Director Carissa Etienne, MBBS, said cases in the Americas seem to be slowing, but more than 2,300 new cases were reported in the region last week, most from the United States, but also several from Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. She added that 95% of cases are in men and 56% have occurred in people who are HIV-positive.
"PAHO has started to deliver vaccines to countries in the Region, and despite limited supplies, they remain an important tool to reduce transmission in high-risk communities," she said.
Yesterday the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 226 more cases since Oct 7, raising the national total to 26,778.
Oct 12 Tedros speech
Oct 10 Agencia Brasil story
Oct 12 Etienne speech
Oct 11 CDC monkeypox update
WHO airs deep concerns about Haiti's cholera outbreak
WHO officials today said they are deeply concerned about a cholera outbreak in Haiti that is centered around the capital of Port au Prince.
At a WHO headquarters briefing today, Director-General Tedros said Haiti's health ministry said that, as of Oct 8, it had received reports of 224 suspected cases, 16 of them fatal. One quarter of the cases are among children ages 1 to 4.
Also, he said the ministry confirmed an outbreak at a prison in the capital, with 39 suspected cases, 9 of them fatal.
Tedros said the situation is evolving rapidly and that the affected area is very insecure and controlled by gangs, making it difficult to collect samples and confirm cases. He also added that fuel shortages are making it hard for health workers to get to work, causing disruptions in medical care. The WHO is working with the health ministry response, "But to bring this outbreak under control, we need secure access to the affected areas," he added.
At a PAHO briefing today, Director Etienne said limited access to clean water in Haiti is creating perfect conditions for cholera and also noted likely underreporting because of street gangs.
She said PAHO has donated 2 tons of medical supplies and cholera kits and that the group stands ready to help Haiti's health ministry access vaccines.
In 2010, Haiti experienced its first cholera outbreak, a massive event that went on for years, sickening more than 820,000 people, 9,792 of them fatally.
Avian flu strikes more poultry in 6 states
Six states have reported more highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks in poultry, including three on commercial farms, according to the latest updates from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
In events affecting commercial farms, South Dakota reported an outbreak at a gamebird farm in Gregory County that has 200 birds. In Kansas, the virus struck a duck farm housing 2,000 birds in Neosho County. And Utah reported outbreaks at two more commercial turkey farms in Sanpete County, which combined had more than 65,000 birds.
Meanwhile, the virus struck other types of flocks in five states. Florida reported two outbreaks in backyard birds, in Broward and Martin counties. Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota also reported more outbreaks in backyard producers. Also, Kansas reported the virus in poultry at a petting zoo in Johnson County.
Since the Eurasian H5N1 strain was first reported in US poultry in early February, outbreaks in 42 states have led to the loss of 47.2 million birds.
USDA APHIS poultry avian influenza outbreak updates
In international H5N1 developments, the United Kingdom's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said in an update this week that Britain is seeing its most outbreaks ever, with more than 170 confirmed across the country since late October 2021. Christine Middlemiss, DVM, the UK chief veterinary officer, said bird flu cases are being confirmed on commercial farms in backyard birds across the country, driven by high levels of disease in wild birds.
"Unfortunately we expect the number of cases to continue to rise over the coming months as migratory birds return to the UK, bringing with them further risk of disease that can spread into our kept flocks," she said.
Oct 10 DEFRA update