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How COVID-19 booster shots could help in global fight against the virus

It's unclear if everyone will need boosters, but early results are promising.

They studied medicine, and suddenly COVID too

Students describe the challenges and treasures of navigating classes and the pandemic.

‘Crying Out for Help’: Harvard Affiliates on Pandemic Front Line Describe Mental Health Toll

Medical professionals who have been on the front lines of COVID-19 at BIDMC and other local hospitals, including Barbara S. Lee (Social Work, BIDMC) and Pamela N. Peck (Psychiatry, BIDMC), shared how their emotional well-being has been impacted over the past 14 months while they put their lives on the line to save others. The hospitals have bolstered and implemented programs to support their staff, drawing on the expertise of Harvard’s faculty specializing in mental health, and created new wellness resources.

So you missed your 2nd COVID shot. Now what?

According to CDC data released on Sunday, about 5 million Americans missed receiving their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) noted it’s unclear exactly what's leading to so many missed second appointments for COVID-19 vaccines but that it's likely that getting a second shot, even at a later point in time, is still very beneficial.

With N95 Decontamination Process, 25 Reusages Possible

Christina Yen, MD (Medicine, BIDMC) shared that an N95 can be reused anywhere from 20 to 25 times and still keep SARS-CoV-2 at bay.

Massachusetts doctor on potential changes to mask mandates

Preeti Mehrotra, MD (Infection Control, BIDMC) spoke about the potential changes to CDC guidelines regarding mask requirements outdoors.

Patients Are Returning to Doctors’ Offices After Putting Off Treatment During Pandemic

People who delayed medical and dental care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are returning to doctors’ offices, sometimes with exacerbated symptoms and conditions due to the delay in treatment, according to doctors. A study from BIDMC found that new cancer diagnoses had gone down during the pandemic because patients weren’t coming in for treatment, which implies that patients might come in later with later-stage cancers.

The digital mental health market is booming. Here’s why some experts are concerned

The digital mental health space was growing rapidly even before the COVID-19 pandemic but stress and anxiety brought on by the health crisis have accelerated demand for virtual behavioral health services. John Torous, MD (Psychiatry, BIDMC) explained the benefits of increased digital mental health care access.

Group of Red Sox players gets COVID-19 vaccination at Fenway Park

A group of Boston Red Sox players received the first vaccination against COVID-19 on Monday from BIDMC staff at Fenway Park.

A year into COVID, hospitals find a new normal

As Massachusetts hospitals settle into a new normal, they’ve shifted from managing a raging crisis to incorporating COVID-19 into their daily work. Kevin Tabb, MD (CEO, BILH) commented that the profile of the typical COVID-19 patient has changed, noting that seniors no longer make up the majority of people hospitalized with the disease. Patients now tend to be younger, in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

With Rise In Variants, Mass. Scientists Warn Of Evolutionary Arms Race Between Virus And Vaccines

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.

Federal panel recommends continued ‘pause’ on J&J vaccine. Doctors hope to reconvene in a week to 10 days

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.

FDA, CDC call for pause in use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after ‘extremely rare’ cases of blood clots

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.

A pandemic that endures for COVID long-haulers

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.

At Beacon Hill hearing on variants, Massachusetts medical experts express concern about vaccine hesitancy amid Johnson & Johnson pause

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 says antibody cocktail prevented Covid when given as simple injection, not an IV

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.

Fatigue, headaches, and worse: For some, neurologic symptoms are lingering after COVID

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.

Seizures Common in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

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.

A conundrum for hospitals: How to vaccinate their sick patients against Covid-19

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.

Specialized Boston clinics treat long-haul COVID-19 patients

Special clinics in Boston help “COVID long-haulers” – patients who struggle with lasting COVID-19 symptoms for weeks and months. Jason Maley, MD (Pulmonary, BIDMC), who leads theCritical Illness and COVID-19 Survivorship Program at BIDMC,noted patients improve over time and at their own pace, and there is potential for symptom improvement after vaccination – but most data is still anecdotal at this time.