This week’s roundup of the latest scientific research on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 indicates that nearly 50% of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 have complications and that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine appears to be working properly. Good in patients receiving cancer treatments.
Smell testing may improve COVID-19 screening
A new study has found that a “smell test” may be a better way to detect the novel coronavirus than to check for a cough or fever. COVID-19 patients often lose their sense of smell without realizing it, but researchers have been able to use simple scratch and sniff cards to correctly identify 75% of infected individuals and 95% of people without the disease. In the study, 163 adults — who were screened for COVID-19 with gold-standard PCR analysis of nasal swabs — were given a card containing the scratch and sniff odors they had to select from a multiple-choice choice. “Compared to other symptoms such as cough, fever, fatigue and history of exposure to COVID-19, failure of the olfactory card was the best predictor of COVID-19 positivity,” Dr. Mina Saeed of the University of California, San Diego, told Reuters. He added that rapid scent tests may be a practical way to reduce transmission of COVID-19, if larger studies with more diverse populations confirm these findings, which were reported Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
Good response to the vaccine has been observed in patients with solid tumors
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine appears to work well in patients receiving cancer treatments, according to a study from Israel. While there was a “clear” delay in antibody production in cancer patients compared to people without cancer, most patients enroll in the second dose, researchers report in JAMA Oncology. They studied 232 patients with solid tumors receiving different treatments — such as chemotherapy, biological agents, immunotherapy, or some combination — and 261 healthy people of the same ages. After the first dose of the vaccine, 29% of cancer patients were producing antibodies, compared to 84% of cancer patients. But after the second dose, the percentage of cancer patients was 86%. The side effects were similar to those in trials of healthy individuals, the researchers said, and none of the cancer patients had a case of COVID-19. They added that the second dose should be given to cancer patients according to the schedule recommended by the manufacturer, even in areas where the usual policy is to delay the second dose due to vaccine shortages.
Complications of COVID-19 impair life after hospital discharge
New research indicates that nearly 50% of adults who are hospitalized with COVID-19 develop complications, and these problems often affect their ability to care for themselves after hospital discharge. Men and those over 50 were more likely to develop complications, researchers reported Thursday in The Lancet, but younger adults who were previously healthy didn’t deliver. “This work contradicts current accounts that COVID-19 is only dangerous for people with comorbidities and the elderly,” co-author Dr Callum Semple of the University of Liverpool said in a press release. His team studied 73,197 adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the UK in 2020. Overall, 49.7% experienced at least one complication, affecting the kidneys in 24%, respiration in 18%, and multiorganism in 16% , and the heart at 12%. The digestive system by 11% and the nervous system by 4%. Complications occurred in 39% of individuals aged 19 to 49 years, compared to 51% of those over 50 years of age. The rates were higher in black patients. After leaving the hospital, more than one in four patients were less able to take care of themselves than they were before they got sick. “Just focusing on death from COVID-19 is likely to underestimate the real impact, especially in young people who are more likely to survive severe COVID-19,” Dr Aya Riad of the University of Edinburgh said in the press release.
Emergency departments see more mask-related injuries
A new study shows that the sharp rise in the use of face masks during the pandemic has come with a sharp rise in mask-related infections. From 2016 through 2019, an average of 200 such injuries were treated annually in United States emergency departments. In 2020, that number rose 2,400%, to nearly 5,000, according to data published on Friday. Researchers reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that infections occurred at all ages, with whites and blacks being equally represented. The most common were skin irritation, rash, and allergic reactions. But 14% of muzzle-related injuries were due to blurred vision and include falls and car accidents. Five per cent of the children had ingested a piece of the mask or put a piece in their nose or other opening. Three percent of the injuries, all in the elderly, were from falls from bending over to pick up a fallen mask. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published recommendations and resources to assist with the selection and appropriate fit of face masks,” the study authors wrote. “The results of the current study underscore the need to increase awareness of these resources in order to reduce the future frequency of mask-related injuries.”