High pressure oxygen shows promise in long COVID; prior Omicron infection may protect against subvariants

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that deserves further study to corroborate the findings and that has not yet been certified by peer review.

High-pressure oxygen treatment may help prolong COVID

Patients with long-term COVID may see some improvement after breathing pure oxygen in a high air pressure environment, data from a small Israeli trial shows.

Researchers randomly assigned 73 patients with post-COVID symptoms lasting at least three months to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) or sham treatment. Patients in the HBOT group spent 40 sessions breathing pure oxygen in a chamber in which the atmospheric pressure was two to three times higher than normal, allowing the lungs to receive more oxygen than they normally would. . Shortly after the last treatment, the HBOT group showed “significant improvement” over the sham group in terms of thinking ability, energy, sleep, psychiatric symptoms and pain, according to a report published Tuesday in Scientific Reports. Symptomatic improvement was associated with magnetic resonance imaging evidence of structural and functional brain healing and improved oxygen-carrying blood supply to the brain, the researchers said.

HBOT is often used to treat wounds that don’t heal well and has recently been tested as a treatment for traumatic brain injury, but this is the first randomized trial to test it during an extended period of COVID. Larger studies are needed to confirm the results and identify patients who might benefit, the researchers said.

Prior infection with Omicron may protect against BA.4/BA.5

Young and middle-aged adults who have been infected with earlier versions of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are likely to have “strong” protection against reinfection with the currently dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. , according to the researchers.

This will not be the case if they were infected with a variant that circulated before Omicron, according to a study from Qatar. The researchers found that after controlling for vaccination status, infection with a pre-Omicron version of SARS-CoV-2 appeared to be only 15.1% effective in preventing symptomatic reinfection BA.4/ BA.5 and 28.3% effective in preventing any BA.4/BA.5 reinfection. Previous infection with Omicron, however, was 76.1% effective against symptomatic BA.4/BA.5 reinfection and 79.7% effective against any BA.4/BA.5 reinfection. The study did not assess the severity of reinfection. In a report published on medRxiv on Tuesday ahead of the peer review, the researchers point out that the findings may not apply to older people, given that only 9% of residents in Qatar are over the age of 50.

The study also showed that protection against infection with earlier pre-Omicron variants was weaker against BA.4/BA.5 than it was against BA.1/BA.2, “indicating that these two new variants have a greater ability to evade the immune system. -system response,” said study leader Laith Jamal Abu Raddad of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar.

COVID-19 vaccines linked to longer periods for some women

Vaccination against COVID-19 may be associated with a short-term lengthening of the menstrual cycle in some women, according to a new study.

The results are drawn from 3,858 nurses in the United States and Canada who have completed questionnaires about their periods twice a year since 2011. As of December 2021, 91% of them had been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Before the pandemic, 15% reported irregular cycles; that rose to 22.7% in 2021, researchers reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology on Wednesday. Vaccinated women had a 54% higher risk of longer cycle length compared to unvaccinated women, regardless of vaccine type and even after accounting for pandemic stress and health-related factors. according to the report. On further analysis, vaccination was only associated with switching to longer cycles in the first six months after vaccination and in women with short, long, or irregular cycles before vaccination, not in women with normal and regular cycles.

“A normal menstrual cycle is characterized by tightly regulated inflammatory and immune mediators” that can be temporarily affected by the body’s immune response to vaccines, the researchers said. They call for monitoring of “menstrual cycle health in clinical vaccine trials and increased attention to sex-based differences in vaccine response.”

For the Reuters Global COVID-19 Tracker chart, click: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/index.html

For Reuters COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker, click: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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