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Mum’s Numb Arm Following COVID Jab Diagnosed as Motor Neuron Disease
A mum has been diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND) after her symptoms were originally believed to have been caused by a COVID-19 vaccine. Anna Barrow, 38, from Eccles, Greater Manchester was told she had MND in May this year after she started experiencing a loss of sensation in her arm.
The mum-of-three first first noticed the symptom in March 2021 but doctors believed it could have been caused by nerve damage from having her jab too high up in her arm. It was hoped she should see an improvement in the next 18 months but her symptoms progressively got worse and the loss of sensation spread across her body.
She was urgently referred to a neurology department but while waiting for an appointment Anna realised she was struggling to breathe and swallow during a work meeting, which prompted her to go to A&E.
The NHS says MND is a condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness that gets worse over time.
Living With Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombocytopenia and Thrombosis: A Qualitative Study
Following the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, governments across the world instigated a range of infection control measures including mass vaccination. Although effective in reducing the severity of COVID-19 infection, a very small percentage of individuals receiving adenoviral vector-based vaccines experienced vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT), which involved life-threatening thromboses in multiple body sites.
At the onset, symptoms of thrombosis included severe pain (unremitting headache, backache, abdominal pain, chest pain), typical manifestations of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (PE), such as leg swelling and breathlessness, and in extreme cases seizures and disturbed consciousness. Intracerebral bleeding occurred in approximately one-third of those with cerebral vein thrombosis, with high mortality risk.
Survivors report a range of long-term debilitating symptoms including those related to stroke (eg, limb weakness or paralysis, dysphasia, chronic headache), PE, myocardial infarction, hepatic hypertension, loss of limb and chronic fatigue.
The need for long-term psychological care has also been acknowledged. This should not be surprising. The sudden-onset, life-threatening and life-changing nature of VITT would predict high levels of associated psychological distress among survivors, similar if not greater than those found in patients with more ‘classic’ thrombosis.
Interior Department Worked With Group Linked to Wuhan Lab on Key COVID Report: Watchdog
The Department of the Interior worked with officials from a global non-profit linked to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China on a key study of COVID and bats in the United States, according to a watchdog group.
Protect the Public’s Trust, a government watchdog organization, obtained documents showing that the Interior Department worked with officials from the EcoHealth Alliance, a controversial group linked to the lab in Wuhan, on a report on “the possibility that humans could give SARS-CoV-2 to bats and bats would, in turn, spread the infection back to humans.”
The EcoHealth Alliance previously took a U.S. grant for bat virus research and paid part of it to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The group’s president, Peter Daszak, was part of the World Health Organization-China team that dismissed the lab leak hypothesis as “extremely unlikely.”
“As we unearth more EcoHealth Alliance ties to the federal government, the question is why the federal government has downplayed the organization’s apparent reporting violations and how the public can have any confidence that it is deserving of taxpayer funds,” Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain added.
The watchdog’s report comes as increased scrutiny is being placed on the Wuhan lab, as some entities, including the FBI and the Department of Energy, believe that it is likely that COVID emerged after a lab leak.
‘Alarming’ Sevenfold Increase in Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Linked to COVID and Vaccine
A sudden increase in Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) — a rare and potentially fatal skin disorder — may be triggered by COVID-19, increased vaccination rates, or a lowered threshold caused by vaccines or previous infection, according to a large case series recently published in the medical journal Burns.
While SJS isn’t caused by fire, it is typically treated by burn units in hospitals because of its similarities to actual burns. Researchers with the burns unit at Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Australia saw two to four cases of SJS, or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), per year prior to COVID-19. In the first six months of 2022 alone, the same burn center observed a sevenfold rise in cases.
Of the 14 reported cases, five patients had COVID-19 a month before developing SJS/TEN, and three of 14 patients received a COVID-19 vaccine one month prior. Not a single case of SJS/TEN was reported in an unvaccinated individual.
Researchers said the rarity of the condition and presence of medications known to trigger the disease make the link difficult to prove, but the rapid rise in cases since the beginning of the pandemic and vaccine rollout is “alarming.”
Increased Antibiotic Exposure Linked to Severe COVID Outcomes
To investigate whether frequent antibiotic exposure may be linked to COVID-19 severity, a team led by researchers from the University of Manchester conducted a matched case-control study of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 (the cases) and those with a COVID-19 diagnosis (the controls). Using 3 years of patient data prior to infection, the researchers created five quintile groups based on the number of prior antibiotic prescriptions and used conditional logistic regression to compare the difference between cases and controls.
The researchers observed a dose-response relationship between the number of antibiotic prescriptions and the risk of severe outcomes. The case group had higher odds of receiving antibiotics than controls, and the risk rose with increased exposure. For the highest antibiotic exposure quintile, the adjusted odds ratio (OR) was 1.80 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.75 to 1.84) for hospital admission and 1.34 (95% CI, 1.28 to 1.41) for death compared with patients without antibiotic exposure.
A larger number of prior antibiotic types was also associated with more severe COVID-19 outcomes. The adjusted OR for those who received more than three antibiotic types in the previous 3 years was nearly double that of those who received only one antibiotic type (OR, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.75 to 1.84 vs OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.05).
“Given the known effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiome, it seems advisable to discourage the regular practice of indiscriminately prescribing antibiotics repeatedly and intermittently, given their uncertain benefits and likely risks,” the authors wrote.
New COVID Variants Giving ‘Arcturus’ a Run for its Money
XBB.1.16, or Arcturus, was responsible for more than 17% of new COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a slight increase from the previous two-week period, which CDC revised down to 16%.
But other Omicron subvariants are making inroads in the U.S., including EG.5 and XBB.2.3. Each strain was responsible for 13% of new infections over the last two weeks. The World Health Organization is monitoring XBB.2.3, which is also increasing globally. According to WHO, some countries are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Washington University Researchers Develop Air Monitor That Detects COVID Virus
A team of researchers at Washington University has developed an air monitor that can alert users to the presence of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus responsible for COVID-19 — in just five minutes.
In an article published in Nature Communications on Monday, the researchers showed the monitor’s ability to detect as few as tens of viral particles in a cubic meter. They hope to commercialize the air monitor so it can be placed in public spaces like hospitals and schools, helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The monitor works by pulling a high volume of air into the device — about 1,000 liters per minute. The high speed traps any aerosols collected within a fluid, where a sensor resides.
Virus particles then bind to a protein on the sensor that recognizes the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Finally, a voltage is applied that alters the charge of the virus particle, and the sensor detects that electrical change. With a switch from a green to red light, the monitor signals the need for increased airflow in the room.
New Insights Into Long COVID Point to Damage to the Vagus Nerve
Reports from 2022 show that more than 65 million people that were infected with COVID-19 developed long-lasting symptoms, a condition that is now defined as Long COVID. Given how difficult it can be to identify and diagnose, the incidence rates among those exposed to multiple viral infections may be much higher. Long COVID symptoms, such as fatigue, difficulty breathing, and brain fog, can significantly interfere with one’s quality of life.
Emerging studies now suggest that many of these symptoms may be a consequence of damage to the vagus nerve. As the body’s primary communication superhighway, the vagus nerve extends into every major organ in the body, including the heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Injury to this nerve, therefore, can disrupt the systems we rely on to breath, digest, and simply function on a daily basis.
Here, we will highlight recent insights gained from a team in Spain investigating the impact of COVID-19 infection on the vagus nerve.
Investigators took a closer look at the nerve itself using ultrasound imaging. In 20% of those reporting Long COVID symptoms, they observed significant thickening throughout parts of the vagus nerve that extend out from the neck and into the chest. Nerve thickening often results from inflammatory damage. Lldados et. al, therefore, speculate that these structural changes in the vagus nerve were likely a consequence of direct viral infection, as well as indirect damage from robust activation of the immune system.
Scientists Develop ‘All Species’ COVID Test
Ying Fang, a virologist and pathobiology professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, led the research.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected in cats, dogs, rodents, deer, apes and a variety of farm and zoo animals. It can also mutate in these animal hosts, leading to new variants.
While most coronavirus tests require specialized chemical reagents to detect antibody responses against the virus in each species tested, this one focuses on antibodies against a protein, called the N-protein. That protein is embedded in part of the virus known as the nucleocapsid. The N-protein is a better target for testing, Fang said in a university news release.