This is going to be a relatively short update (given the time since the last update) because I’m still super-busy. I should have more time in August.
This paper from USA found that the first menstrual cycle after a COVID-19 vaccination was about a day longer than normal, but nothing else about the cycle changed.
This large Phase 3 study in China found that an inhaled vax booster from CanSino (a company) elicited 5x more anti-BA.5 antibodies than an injected inactivated virus booster did. (Caveat: the Chinese injected inactivated virus vaccines are some of the wimpiest vaccines, but 5x is still impressive.) The inhaled vax was also 35% more effective than the winpyvax at one year (which had waned a lot, so this waned a fair amount as well).
This press release from USA says that a nasal vax made from an inactivated adenovirus (like AZ and Sputnik) by the Mayo Clinic has Phase 1 results showing that the vax elicits both a mucosal and systemic immune response.
This paper from USA says that in a very small study, the Gritstone booster stayed effective for six months (i.e. did not wane much). However, the Gritstone vax is supposed to be variant-proof, but almost half of the people who got the Gritstone vax got infected with Omicron.
This press release from USA says that a Canadian non-profit bioresearch consortium called CQDM (whose letters I could not decipher) is funding a project
- the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and
- Inspirevax (a Canadian company)
- to collaborate with
- a US company named Oragenics
- to develop a variant-agnostic COVID-19 protein subunit vaccine candidate.
Yeah, that’s a lot of entities working together, and I’m not sure exactly what the legal structures are, or why Canada is funding a US company, but good luck to them.
This preprint found that people who were up-to-date on vaccinations had a higher risk of infection during the XBB era than those who were not up-to-date. The authors say this is because those who were not up-to-date were more likely to get a BA.4/5 or BQ infection, which provided better protection against XBB than the bivalent vaccines did.
I remember that early on in the pandemic, they were saying that people with one blood type were more likely to get sick, but I thought I remembered that had gotten debunked. Apparently not! This study from USA found that there is a protein on type A blood cells which SARS-CoV-2 binds really well to. Today I also learned that there are subtypes of blood groups, and Type 1 of A (by far the most common type) is really susceptible compared to the other types:
This study from India from November 2019 says that, compared to the average, people with the following blood types had the following risk difference in getting COVID-19:
- A: 1.53x
- B: 1.15x
- O: 0.65x
- AB: 0.66x
Patients with Rh+ blood were also more susceptible to COVID-19.
(AB blood has both A and B antigens present on the surface of the cell, so I’m surprised that people with AB blood are significantly less likely to get COVID-19, given the previous study showing that A blood is way hospitable to SARS-CoV-2.)
Interestingly, the study found that people with A/B/Rh+ blood — despite being more likely to get sick — were no more likely to go into the ICU and people who were Rh negative took 2.5 days longer on average to recover than people who were Rh positive; people with O or AB took an average of a day longer to recover.
This article from the US reports that the US CDC found that 77.5% of Americans had had COVID-19 infections at the end of 2022. The thing I found fascinating is that means that almost a quarter of Americans had not gotten COVID-19! Given how contagious it is, and how fast the vaccines wane, I find that pretty amazing. (This website says that in April 2023 (four months later than the US numbers above), 88.2% of Canadians had been infected with COVID-19.)
This report from the US CDC but using data from Peel, Ontario, found that at the peak of Omicron, cases were being undercounted by 19x. (No, I don’t know why Peel data ended up in a US CDC report.)
This article from Netherlands (in Dutch) from May 2023 reports that GPs found that adults came in for memory and concentration difficulties in 2023Q1 24% more often than they did in 2020Q1. By age group, it was:
- over 75: +18%
- 45-74: +40%
- 25-44: +31%
(I was surprised that the over-75s came in less than the 45-74 year-olds, but maybe they figured their memory and concentration problems were normal aging, so they didn’t go to the doctor’s?)
This paper from Canada found that people who had depression after COVID-19 had elevated levels of brain inflammation as measured by positron emission tomography.
This paper from USA says that each new major variant has had a lower risk of loss of taste/smell than the previous one: from 74% for Alpha compared to COVID Classic down to 6% to 14% during Omicron.
This preprint written by researchers from all over the world using data from all over the world found that you had a 63% higher chance of getting Long COVID if you had a specific allele on the FOX4P gene.
This paper from USA from Dec 2022 found that a very small number of people got postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) from a COVID-19 vaccine. Note that people are five times more likely to get POTS from COVID-19 infection than from COVID-19 vaccination, so you should still get a vaccination.
Moreover, (a very small number of) vaccines causing Long COVID-ish symptoms strongly suggests that Long COVID is caused by an immune over-reaction. This case study from August 2022 from the USA says that a man with post-vax POTS was helped by replacing his blood plasma (which is the part of the blood which carries antibodies!) with someone else’s; maybe that would help Long COVID people?
This paper from USA found that people who had moderate to severe levels of COVID-19 symptoms during the acute phase were 28% more likely to develop chronic pain than those who no infection. People who had mild or no symptoms during an infection reported less pain than the uninfected. Note: They didn’t distinguish between new-since-COVID pain and prior-to-COVID pain, they just asked “have you had pain?”. It’s possible that people who have had chronic pain for a long time were more careful about avoiding COVID-19, so they would be overrepresented in the “did not get Covid” group.
This paper from USA says that in 2021, of people who lost their sense of smell after COVID-19:
- 72% fully recovered their sense of smell;
- 24% had a partial recovery;
- 3% had no recovery at all.
For those who lost their sense of taste:
- 76% had a full recovery;
- 20% had a partial recovery;
- 2% did not recover at all.
This paper says that animals moved an average of 73% more when humans were in lockdowns, and they came an average of 36% closer to roads.
I sometimes wonder what animals thought of the sudden change in human habits. I mean, imagine what we would think if all the birds which were in the process of flying south suddenly turned and went east instead!
This paper found that nasal rapid antibody tests have an awful lot of false negatives. (We knew that.) It also found that virus showed up in the throat/saliva much sooner than in the nose. I am not a doctor, but I think that means that you should swab your throat, not just your nose, when doing rapid tests.
This paper from Alberta found that detection rates of several different types of cancer (breast, colorectal, prostate, and melanoma) dropped significantly early in the pandemic. Mostly, the detection rates that fell were early detection rates. Interestingly, breast, prostate, and melanoma 1-year survival rates were not changed. Colorectal cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and uterine cancer 1-year survival rates did drop.
This blog post talks about recent vaccine developments. I pulled some info into the Vaccines section above, but if you like to geek out over vax details, this blog post is for you.