Massachusetts epidemiology and infectious disease experts suggested newer variants may be more transmissible and could be better able to resist COVID-19 immunity from the vaccines or a natural infection. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) noted many of these variants show enhanced transmission and, in some studies, enhanced disease, during his remarks at a at a state legislative hearing on Tuesday.
The CDC and the FDA called for an immediate pause in use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after regulators said six women recently developed unusual clots. Nearly 7.5 million people in the United States have received the vaccine, which uses technology that Johnson & Johnson licensed from BIDMC.
Federal health officials on Tuesday called for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying they are reviewing reports of six U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in people after receiving the vaccine. The rare blood clots were first detected in people in Europe who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC), who has been developing the technology used in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for years, noted in an email last week that there were a number of biological differences between the viral vectors, called adenoviruses, that are being used in the two vaccines.
BIDMC launched a new program, the Critical Illness and COVID-19 Survivorship Program, to provide clinical care for COVID long haulers and investigate why they continue to feel symptoms long after the days or weeks that represent a typical course of the disease. Harvard Gazette spoke with Jason Maley, MD (Pulmonary, BIDMC), who leads the program, about the program, what’s known about the condition, and what awaits discovery.
Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said the pause shows a “commitment to safety” as federal agencies investigate the cases of potentially rare blood clotting in six Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said that a single administration of its monoclonal antibody cocktail reduced the risk that volunteers exposed to COVID-19 would develop the disease by 81 percent. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC),who partnered with Johnson & Johnson for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, is an investigator in Regeneron’s study and noted the antibodies approaches are complementary.
As growing evidence suggests that brain and nervous-system problems are prevalent among “long-haulers,” the estimated 10 to 30 percent of COVID-19 survivors who remain ill months after their infection, BIDMC’s Critical Illness and COVID-19 Survivorship Program is the most comprehensive post-COVID clinic in New England. Jason Maley, MD (Pulmonary, BIDMC) directs the program and said the group is seeing 10 to 15 new patients a week and is fully booked for months. Tamara Fong, MD (Neurology, BIDMC) said long-haulers’ symptoms often resemble a post-concussion syndrome. But unlike with a concussion, it’s not clear whether the brain suffered a direct injury.
In a study conducted during the early days of the pandemic, scientists reported in The Annals of Neurology that nearly 10 percent of COVID-19 patients who experienced cognitive symptoms and were hospitalized during the early days of the pandemic experienced nonconvulsive seizure. The study was co-authored by Mouhsin Shafi, MD (Neurology, BIDMC) who noted only the sickest patients were monitored with EEG at the beginning of the pandemic and it’s not clear how common EEG abnormalities may have been in other patients.
Providing vaccines in the in-patient setting is a concern many hospitals face due to limited supplies and logistics. Sharon Wright, MD, MPH (Infection Protection, BILH) spoke to the approach BILH is taking to address this challenge for patients who received their first vaccine dose in the outpatient setting, and become eligible for their second dose during an inpatient stay at one of our hospitals.