By Nancy Lapid
(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. This includes research results that warrant further studies to confirm the results and that have yet to be certified through peer review.
Vaccination after infection can reduce COVID for a long time
Vaccination after infection with SARS-CoV-2 may help reduce the burden of long-lasting COVID symptoms, a new study suggests.
The researchers followed 6,729 volunteers, ages 18 to 69, who received two vaccinations with either AstraZeneca’s viral vector vaccine or an mRNA vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna after recovering from an infection with the coronavirus, and who had reported long COVID symptoms of any severity at least once between February and September 2021. The odds of reporting long COVID — symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks — fell by an average of 13% after an initial dose of vaccine, researchers reported Wednesday in The BMJ . The second dose, given 12 weeks after the first, was associated with a further 9% reduction in the chance of a long COVID that lasted an average of at least 9 weeks, the researchers said. The likelihood of reporting long-term COVID severe enough to result in functional impairment was similarly reduced, researchers reported. Results were similar regardless of vaccine type, interval from infection to first dose of vaccine, underlying health condition, or severity of COVID-19. However, the study was not designed to reveal such differences, nor can it definitively prove that vaccines reduce the likelihood of a long COVID.
“Further research is needed to assess the long-term relationship between vaccination and long COVID, particularly the impact of the Omicron variant,” which emerged after this study was completed, the researchers said.
Desktop “air curtains” can deflect virus particles
When people can’t keep a safe distance to avoid the spread of COVID-19, a redesigned desktop “air curtain” can block aerosols in exhaled air, researchers found.
Air curtains – artificially generated air currents – are often used to protect patients in operating theatres. At the University of Nagoya in Japan, researchers tested their new desktop device by simulating a blood collection booth with a lab technician standing near the patient. Aerosol particles blown toward the curtain “were observed to bend abruptly toward (a) the intake port” without passing through the air curtain, they reported Tuesday in AIP Advances. Even passing an arm through the air curtain didn’t disrupt the airflow or reduce its effectiveness, they said. A high-efficiency particulate filter (HEPA) can be installed in the intake port, they added.
If further tests under real conditions confirm the effectiveness of the system, it could be “useful as an indirect barrier not only in the medical field, but also in situations where sufficient physical distance cannot be maintained, such as at the reception desk”. said the researchers.
Antacids help with COVID-19 by helping limit inflammation
Researchers have discovered how the antacid famotidine, commonly sold as Pepcid by a unit of Johnson & Johnson, may help ease COVID-19 symptoms in clinical trials.
In studies on mice, they found that famotidine stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the immune system and other involuntary bodily functions. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it can send out signals to suppress severe immune responses called cytokine storms, which release large amounts of inflammatory proteins into the blood too quickly. When mice were given famotidine, it significantly reduced levels of inflammatory proteins in the blood and spleen and improved survival. But when the vagus nerve was severed, famotidine no longer stopped cytokine storms, according to a report published Monday in Molecular Medicine. The data “suggest a role for the vagus nerve inflammatory reflex in suppressing the cytokine storm during COVID-19,” said co-author Dr. Kevin Tracey of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York, in a statement.
Direct electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve is known to improve a variety of diseases. “Famotidine, a well-tolerated oral drug, may offer an additional method” to activate the vagus nerve to reduce inflammatory protein formation and resulting tissue damage in COVID-19 and other diseases, the researchers concluded.
Click here for a Reuters graph on vaccines in development.
(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)