New in Research
Link Between Long COVID and Low Serotonin Levels Could Open the Door to Use of SSRIs in Treatment
Researchers analyzing blood and stool samples from 58 patients with long COVID found that compared with patients who had fully recovered from COVID-19, there were higher levels of virus remnants in their guts for longer periods. Those lingering virus pieces trigger immune responses that can cause gut inflammation, in turn reducing the production of serotonin. Reduced serotonin can lead to brain fog, memory problems, and fatigue issues associated with long COVID. "Our study, together with recent findings linking depression with cognitive impairment in long COVID and the effect of [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] on vagus nerve activity, call for the assessment of targeting serotonin signaling for the prevention or treatment of neurocognitive manifestations," authors write. (Cell)
Lingering COVID-19 Symptoms Estimated to Affect 16% of Children and Adolescents After Initial Infection
A systematic review of 31 studies estimates that 16% of children with an initial COVID-19 infection experienced at least one persistent symptom three months afterwards. The most common symptoms, according to pooled estimates, were sore throat (14.8%), persistent fever (10.9%), and sleep disturbance (10.3%). Fatigue was reported at a pooled estimate of 9.4%. (Pediatrics)
COVID-19 Infection Associated with Increased CV Incident and Stroke Risk
A study conducted in Tawain compared 106,212 patients who experienced a COVID-19 infection with 1.6 million non-infected individuals and found that the previously infected population was correlated with a 1.57 times higher risk of new-incident cardiovascular or cerebrovascular complications. That risk was reduced for fully vaccinated (1.11 times higher) and boosted (1.1 times higher) patients. (Clinical Infectious Diseases)
Five Months After Hospital Discharge, MRI Scans Reveal Multiple Organ Abnormalities Among 61% of Patients Who Had Severe COVID-19
An analysis of MRI scans among patients who experience severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and those who were never infected found that the infected patients were more likely to experience multiple organ abnormalities five months after discharge. Scans of the infected group revealed a 14-times higher likelihood of lung abnormalities, a three-times higher likelihood of brain abnormalities, and a two-times higher likelihood of kidney abnormalities, compared with the non-infected group. Researchers found that the extent of abnormalities tended to increase with COVID-19 severity, age, and comorbidities. "These findings underscore the need for multi-targeted therapies and integrated multidisciplinary follow-up services for patients recovering after hospital admission with COVID-19," authors write. (The Lancet)
Adults 65 and Older Remain Most At-Risk Group for COVID-19 Hospitalization
New data covering the first eight months of 2023 revealed that adults 65 and older comprised 62.9% of all COVID-19 associated hospitalizations. Most of the hospitalized older adults had underlying conditions, and only 23.5% had received the recommended bivalent vaccine.
HHS Announces Paxlovid Deal to Maintain Availability
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it had reached an agreement with drug manufacturer Pfizer that will help protect access to the COVID-19 treatment drug Paxlovid, on the eve of the drug's transition to the commercial market. Under the agreement, Pfizer will refresh the HHS stockpile of the drug and provide 1 million additional treatment courses for the Strategic National Stockpile. HHS will be reserving the drug for the uninsured and individuals covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
In the Media
Lingering Effects of Multiple COVID-19 Infections Disproportionately Affect Black Communities
From NBC News: "The virus strongly affects Black people, who often live in areas where access to quality health care is not easily available. The lower likelihood of having health insurance and decreased access to clinical care only exacerbated the effects of Covid among Blacks and Latinos, creating a cycle of hardships that could stunt family growth, said Dr. Jayne Morgan, a cardiologist and the executive director of the Covid task force at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta."
Vaccine Now in Development Could Counter Multiple COVID-19 Strains at Once
From Fierce Biotech: "While various biopharmas are working on vaccines that could protect against multiple strains of COVID-19, researchers in the U.S. have reported early success in a shot that goes even further — offering protection against a range of other coronaviruses like SARS. In the results of a study published Oct. 18 in Cell Reports, researchers from Duke University Medical Center’s Duke Human Vaccine Institute demonstrated that a pan-coronavirus vaccine targeting SARS-CoV-2, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and a bat-like coronavirus that hasn’t yet jumped from animals to humans protected mice from illness following exposure to mouse forms of the pathogens."
Op-Ed: Long COVID Research Needs a Boost
From Nature: "We call for a moonshot for long COVID, a commitment — from the US government — to invest at least US$1 billion annually over the next ten years to address the problem. Such an investment would inspire governments around the globe to respond in kind to this health challenge, which exists on every continent."
Another COVID-19 Peak? What to Expect this Winter
From The Hill: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s expecting a 'moderate COVID-19 wave' this winter, with a peak matching last winter’s hospitalization levels. 'COVID-19 could peak earlier than last season, however, because of limited summer activity compared to past years,' the agency added.
APTA offers multiple resources on COVID-19 and long COVID, including a long COVID clinical summary, links to research articles, a report on the pandemic's effects on the physical therapy profession, and more. APTA also offers consumer-friendly information about physical therapist treatment for long COVID.