Vaccines Are Still Overwhelmingly Our Best Weapon Against COVID

People wait in line at the opening of the Cal State L.A. walk-up mass vaccine site which is administering the Johnson & Johnson one dose shot on April 8, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.
People wait in line at the opening of the California State University, Los Angeles, walk-up mass vaccination site, which is administering the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine on April 8, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.

BYWilliam Rivers PittTruthoutPUBLISHEDApril 13, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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The national and global vaccination effort to combat COVID-19 suffered a notable setback on Monday morning. According to The New York Times, production of the vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson has been put on hold over health concerns for those who have already received this specific inoculation.

“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,” reports the Times. “All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination, according to a statement issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

While officials from those agencies state these occurrences are “extremely rare,” they have recommended that anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson injection who experiences severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of being vaccinated should contact their doctor.

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Later on Monday morning, the Biden administration announced that all vaccination sites in the U.S. will temporarily suspend the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA and CDC held a press conference on Monday seeking to assure the population that the risk to them is extremely low, and that all steps are being taken to address the issue. Some 190 million doses have been administered to date, according to the CDC (although many of these still require a future second shot). The number of people adversely affected so far, while of great concern, is a fantastically small fraction out of the main.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been popular for a number of reasons. It requires only one injection to reach maximum protection — around 86 percent — and does not require the deep cold storage of vaccinations manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. This makes it easier to bring to recipients in remote and rural areas of the country. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine appeared to be the optimal choice for the vaccination of children, whenever that next stage is deemed safe, because of its one-shot effectiveness.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet tomorrow to discuss the significance of these developments, and investigations will continue. “Until that process is complete,” reads the FDA and CDC statement, “we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the second to confront issues of blood clotting in patients. The vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca has spent the last several weeks wrestling with blood clotting issues within its own vaccine program. “In Europe, at least 222 suspected cases have been reported among 34 million people who have received their first dose of the [AstraZeneca] vaccine. More than 30 have died,” reports the journal Science.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, called Vaxzevira, is currently being analyzed to see if it might be safer for use in specific groups, such as older people. Some countries are limiting the use of Vaxzevira to that group, and in the meantime, work continues to determine whether this vaccine should continue to be used.The number of people adversely affected so far, while of great concern, is a fantastically small fraction out of the main.

“Researchers stress that the troubles by no means spell Vaxzevria’s end,” continues Science. “In the vast majority of cases, its benefits outweigh the risks, and the cheap and easy to store vaccine is still the best hope for vaccinating large numbers of people in low- and middle-income countries. And some scientists suggest a simple strategy could reduce the risk while stretching supplies: Cut the vaccine dose in half.”

The concerns over the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines will not have a significant impact in the U.S., which is flush with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Globally, however, the clotting issue could become an anchor on the effort to inoculate the world against COVID.

“Between them,” reports the Guardian, “the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines were the best chance for many developing countries. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is being produced at no profit and is easy to transport and store at room temperature. That was deliberate — the university and the company have pledged to make it highly accessible. The J&J vaccine is the other great hope, because it is given as one dose, not two, cutting the cost and making it easier for countries with shaky health systems to mass-vaccinate.”

There have been no reports of these types of side effects in the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, each of which uses the new mRNA technology as the basis for their effectiveness.

Certainly, the developments with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are not something anyone wants to hear at this juncture. Vaccines have provided the first real sense of hope for many people in more than a year, and flies in the ointment are not welcome.

Moreover, anti-vaccination advocates will use this pause as a weapon to frighten an already-spooked population. I dread what Tucker Carlson and that lot over at Fox News will do to distort this situation, but the moment speaks to a far larger concern regarding mass media’s ability to successfully deliver the actual facts in this post-Trump/post-truth age.

“I am extremely skeptical of the ability of public messaging to disaggregate ‘the J&J vaccine is under review as a precaution’ from ‘the J&J vaccine is not safe and the others may not be either’ in the minds of normal people,” tweeted Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Matthew Gertz early Monday morning.“An incredibly crucial, high-stakes test for the press.”

We shall see.

More than 190 million individual doses of COVID-19 have been injected in this country as of today. The percentage of side effects has been astonishingly low, while the rate of effectiveness has exceeded even the wildest dreams of the researchers who developed them. By orders of magnitude, COVID-19 is more deadly than any of the vaccines crafted to destroy it.

I am deeply grateful for having received my inoculation. I still wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash my hands like a surgeon on his way to remove an appendix. Because of the variants that are still out there, and because understanding of how long these vaccines work is still under study, I am not starry-eyed about the Band-Aid on my arm. But I am safer than I was, and as this vaccination technology develops, we will all become safer still if we participate.

I am comforted by my inoculation, and careful, because I believe in science but nothing is perfect. As soon as possible, you should get the shots. Once you do, be mindful of yourself, and go to a doctor with any concerns if you can. We are into a fourth-wave inflection point with COVID. This is no time to disdain the best weapon we have in this fight.

Chinese Covid-19 vaccine efficacy is ‘not high,’ top health official admits

By Nectar Gan, CNN

Updated 3:23 AM ET, Mon April 12, 2021

(CNN)The efficacy of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines is “not high” and authorities are weighing options to bolster protection — including mixing different shots, China’s top disease control official has said.”The protection rates of existing vaccines are not high,” Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a conference in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Saturday.He listed two options to solve the problem: one is to increase the number of doses, or adjust the dosage or interval between shots; the other is to mix vaccines developed from different technologies.

Gao’s remarks are a rare public admission from the country’s top health official that the efficacy of China’s coronavirus vaccines is not ideal — and improvements are needed to boost protection.

Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at the National Vaccines and Health conference in Chengdu, Sichuan province Saturday.Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at the National Vaccines and Health conference in Chengdu, Sichuan province Saturday.China has positioned itself as a leader in Covid-19 vaccine development and distribution, promoting and supplying its vaccines to countries all over the globe, including Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Turkey and Brazil.

“More than 60 countries have approved the use of Chinese vaccine. The safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccine is being widely recognized by various countries,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a news conference in March.The relatively low efficacy rate of Chinese vaccines, however, could hamper credibility and dent Beijing’s so-called vaccine diplomacy.

The two pharmaceutical firms that supply the majority of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines to the world have not published comprehensive clinical trial data in medical journals on their vaccines’ effectiveness. But from the interim results announced by the companies, their efficacy falls far behind the new type of vaccines developed in the West that use mRNA to trigger an immune response.The CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac, a private company, was found to have an efficacy rate of just 50.4% in clinical trials in Brazil. Another trial in Turkey showed it was 83.5% effective. State-owned Sinopharm said its two vaccines have efficacy rates of 79.4% and 72.5%.In comparison, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have efficacy rates of 97% and 94%, respectively.In March, the United Arab Emirates started offering a third dose of a Sinopharm vaccine to residents who failed to generate sufficient antibodies after two shots.

China opens its borders to foreigners who take Chinese shots, as geopolitical vaccine silos emerge

China opens its borders to foreigners who take Chinese shots, as geopolitical vaccine silos emergeIn that sense, Gao’s comments on the relatively low efficacy of Chinese vaccines were merely stating a well-known fact — but it was the first time a high-level official in China had publicly acknowledged it.The Chinese CDC chief’s remarks also come as China is aggressively ramping up its vaccination drive at home. As of Friday, the country has administered more than 160 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. It is aiming to inoculate 40% of its 1.4 billion population by the end of June.”What struck me most was that the suggestion of the relatively low efficacy rates of Chinese vaccines appears to be a deviation from what the Chinese state and social media has said. The official narrative portrays Chinese vaccines as both safe and effective,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who posted Gao’s speech on Twitter over the weekend.As Gao’s comments gained traction on social media and made international headlines, Chinese censors quickly scrubbed discussions online, and state media swiftly put out an interview with Gao to walk back his comments.Global Times, a state-run nationalist tabloid, quoted Gao as saying reports about his admission were “a complete misunderstanding.””The protection rates of all vaccines in the world are sometimes high, and sometimes low. How to improve their efficacy is a question that needs to be considered by scientists around the world,” Gao was quoted as saying.

Huang, the expert on China’s public health, said the quick repudiation by the Global Times suggested Chinese authorities will not tolerate any challenge to their official narrative.”Gao’s remarks were just an occasional aberration,” he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

For many sufferers of lingering COVID-19 symptoms, proving they are sick is a big part of the battle


CNNUpdated: 8:06 AM CDT Apr 11, 2021Infinite Scroll EnabledBy Ivana Kottasová, CNNPlay Video SHOW TRANSCRIPT


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Lyth Hishmeh kept feeling ill months after contracting coronavirus a year ago in March. He had chest pain and couldn’t concentrate. At 26 years old, the former regular runner was fatigued and breathless, struggling to function properly. Yet medical professionals kept telling him he simply could not still be ill.

“They were telling me it’s all in my head,” he said. For Hishmeh who lives in London and many sufferers of lingering COVID-19 symptoms, proving they are sick has become a big part of trying to get better.

Another Londoner, Monique Jackson, has lost count of the number of times her pain was described as “just anxiety.” The 32-year old illustrator was repeatedly told by medical professionals to go to the accidents and emergency, only to be discharged soon after.

“I felt like I was wasting people’s time, that people either didn’t believe me … or the ones who were sympathetic and supportive said ‘we don’t know, it’s a new disease and we just don’t know,'” she said.

Learning that they were not alone, that other people were experiencing the same issues, was a huge revelation for both Hishmeh and Jackson. This was not just in their heads. They were not imagining the pain. They really were sick.Some COVID-19 long-haulers say vaccines are relieving their symptoms. Researchers are looking into it

Long Covid, also called post-Covid syndrome, is shaping up to be a major, long-term public health issue. In the U.K. alone, almost 700,000 people reported having symptoms for at least three months after getting infected with COVID-19, according to a survey done by the U.K. Office for National Statistics in March. A majority of the 700,000 said their illness was limiting their day-to-day activities and for almost 70,000, the symptoms have lasted for more than a year.

A separate study published last month showed that seven in 10 people who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 have not fully recovered five months after being discharged.

While the figures made big headlines, they did not come as a surprise to long-haulers and their doctors.

About 10% suffer long-term

Dr. Manoj Sivan, an associate clinical professor and consultant at the University of Leeds, was one of the first physicians to start writing about COVID-19 long-haulers last spring. As a rehabilitation medicine expert, he knew previous epidemics of SARS and MERS left some patients suffering from post-viral syndromes a long time after the epidemics were declared to be over. He was seeing the same patterns with the coronavirus.

“Anyone who’s recovering from Covid is expected to make a good recovery, a full recovery, within four to six weeks,” he said. “In about 10% to 20% of people, the symptoms can linger beyond the four to six week period and in about 10% of people, the symptoms can persist even beyond 12 weeks, when it becomes a real problem.”

Sivan said that while symptoms can vary from patient to patient, there are some that appear to be very common. “I would say the big five are fatigue, breathlessness, pain, brain fog, and psychological problems,” he continued.Long-haul COVID-19 survivors reflect on their battles one year later

Many patients also experience symptoms associated with dysautonomia, which is caused by an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system and which can include palpitations, dizziness, and psychological problems like anxiety, depression and PTSD, Sivan added. Some people have had rashes and joint swelling and some have developed new allergies.

The vast number of different symptoms make long Covid a particularly worrying public health problem.

“When you look at chronic pain, or, let’s say, hypertension or diabetes, they are big problems, they’re prevalent in the population and they’re costly, however, there is very streamlined way of managing them — you go to the GP, you got high blood pressure, you get put on drug A, if that doesn’t work, they add drug B, so there’s a protocol, there are clinics and a single clinician can manage it.”

That’s not the case with long Covid, he said. “You need a full set of professionals, a multidisciplinary team, which is very expensive, and it’s very difficult to set up and to deal with,” he said.Firefighter details long-haul COVID-19 recovery: This virus ‘almost took my life’

The National Health Service (NHS) in England has set up around 70 long Covid clinics. But demand is much, much higher than the number of places available. Monique Jackson said that while she has been fortunate to find doctors who were helpful and understanding, she has not been able to get into this type of clinic.

Her recovery has been “up and down,” with new symptoms popping up every few months. “Headaches, the shortness of breath, I had weird things like blue fingers, and the right side of my face felt like it dropped and it still feels different to the left side, I had the nerve sensations all throughout my body like hair was being dragged across the surface of my skin,” she said.

Jackson got so ill she had to move back in with her family. She spent the summer wearing lots of jumpers, not able to shake off the chills. Chest pain and insomnia kept her awake for months. “It wasn’t just tiredness, it was like I’d forgotten how to sleep. I only got one or two hours a night,” she said.

Her symptoms were so bizarre and overwhelming, she kept searching online to see if anyone else reported them. When she couldn’t find much, she started chronicling her experiences in a visual diary online. Gradually, she started coming across other patients and support groups on social media.‘Haunting to experience’: COVID-19 ‘long-hauler’ shares her story

Dr. Nisreen Alwan, an associate professor of public health at the University of Southampton, said the mobilization of long Covid patients through social media helped speed up the recognition of the condition as a serious problem.

“We are definitely in a better place now, because more people know about it, more doctors and healthcare professionals know about it, but it’s important to say that there’s still a lot of variation in how much people are recognized and whether they are believed or not, because we haven’t got a universal standard definition of what long Covid is,” she said.

“And it also depends on who you are,” she added. “We know also from the past and from the other illnesses that there are groups who are less believed — women, people from ethnic minorities, people who are from more deprived backgrounds — there is that risk of it still being attributed to straightaway to psychological presentation, like anxiety.”

Hishmeh and Jackson are both active inpatient support groups. Jackson has been speaking to experts, posting resources on her blog. Hishmeh has co-founded Long Covid SOS, an advocacy group that campaigns on behalf of patients to get more recognition for the condition, more research into it and more support for those suffering from it.

Jackson said she’s turned the corner about 10 months after getting sick. While she is still not back to her former self, she is feeling better. She also said that her symptoms have calmed down noticeably after she got the COVID-19 vaccine. While the experts aren’t yet certain about the science on why this could be happening or how long patients’ improvement might last, other COVID-19 long-haulers have also reported relief after getting inoculated.How long will coronavirus vaccines protect people?

Second pandemic

More than 133 million people globally have been infected with the coronavirus. While it’s unclear how many are suffering from long Covid, public health experts are warning of a ‘second pandemic’ of long-hauler disease.

“The scale is enormous,” said Dr. Clare Rayner, a retired occupational health physician and herself a long Covid patient. “And the U.K. is wealthy compared to most countries, we’re supposed to have systems in place and if we’re struggling, the implications for countries that are less well off and developing is huge, I don’t even think it’s being recorded, we don’t know how many people have it.”

A study released earlier this week has shown that as many as one in three people infected with COVID-19 have longer-term mental health or neurological symptoms.Almost a third of people with ‘mild’ COVID-19 battle symptoms months later, study finds

Rayner said it is this aspect of long Covid that could be particularly worrying because it impacts people’s ability to return to work. She said many long Covid patients are experiencing cognitive difficulties like memory problems, speech difficulties, ability to concentrate, read or plan their day.

“We have an enormous amount of people who have been off sick for a year, they are young people, mainly they are of working age, most seem to have been completely healthy before and suddenly they cannot work,” she said. “Even if they get better, what we’re finding is that people have relapses, they go back, they want to go back and then exertion, either of the brain or the body can seem to trigger a relapse,” she said.

Hishmeh is one of the young people Rayner is talking about. Now 27, and a year on from his initial infection, he is still unable to return to work. Before becoming ill, Hishmeh was a software engineer, researching artificial intelligence and “doing a lot of thinking.” He wants to get back to his career — but can’t.

“I’m 27, these are my prime, golden years and my brain can’t work at that level anymore, I get exhausted, I get tired, my eyes get strained,” he said.

If I’m fully vaccinated, why do I still have to be so careful?

People who are fully vaccinated may still be able to pass on the virus to others.ByChia-Yi Hou | Apr. 10, 2021 of 01:03Volume 20% 

Story at a glance

  • About 20 percent of people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.
  • The vaccines are meant to protect against severe illness and hospitalization.
  • Vaccinated people can still get infected and potentially pass the virus to others.

With about a third of people in the U.S. with one dose and about 20 percent fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, people are wondering why they still need to be cautious in their daily activities. This has to do with how the vaccine works and being careful during this stage as experts are gathering more data on how immunization is affecting case loads.

The goal and purpose for vaccination is to prevent severe illness and hospitalization. The vaccines that currently have emergency use approval, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, have not been shown to prevent infection.

This means that people who are vaccinated may be able to get infected and could transmit the virus to others, although the probability of that happening might be lower than that of unvaccinated people. Experts are focused on gathering more data to see if transmission is happening. There’s also limited data on how the vaccine works for people who are immunocompromised and how well it protects against the coronavirus variants.

Since vaccinated people may still be able to shed virus, wearing masks in public spaces will be important for keeping others safe from exposure. Keeping distance between others will also keep others safe. All these health guidelines are meant to reduce transmission.

There have been changes in recommendations for what people who are fully vaccinated can do. The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were updated to say that people who were fully vaccinated could spend time unmasked indoors with other fully vaccinated people. “Though the risk of disease may be minimal to the fully vaccinated person themselves, they should be mindful of their potential risk of transmitting the virus to others if they become infected, especially if they are visiting with unvaccinated people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or who have unvaccinated people at increased risk for severe disease in their own households,” according to the CDC guidelines. The risk of transmission in these settings is low enough for that and since all parties are vaccinated the risk of developing severe illness is also low.

Our country is in a historic fight against the Coronavirus. Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

It’s also important to note that vaccination progress varies from state to state, with some estimated to have vaccinated fewer than 45,000 people out of every 100,000 and others achieving 50,000 to 60,000, according to the CDC vaccine tracker. These vaccination rates affect your risk when you go out to do grocery shopping, take public transport or spend any time indoors with people outside your household or bubble. It affects the chances that you could be standing next to someone who is unvaccinated and/or infected. It’s also something to keep in mind if you are traveling domestically.

Because the coronavirus is still circulating in the population, including variants, it’s important to try to reduce transmission rates as much as possible. Cases are also spiking in several states, meaning that even as people get vaccinated, expanding interactions with more people could expose more people to the virus and keep transmission going.

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, check the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. For updated global case counts, check this page maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

You can follow Chia-Yi Hou on Twitter.





Michigan governor urges halt of high school classes, youth sports

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stopped short of ordering restrictions, instead asking for voluntary compliance to slow the spread of Covid-19.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., on Friday, April 9, 2021.APApril 10, 2021, 7:49 AM PDT / Source: Associated PressBy The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. — Faced with the country’s highest rate of new coronavirus infections, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged a two-week suspension of in-person high school classes, all youth sports and indoor restaurant dining.

She stopped short of ordering restrictions, instead asking for voluntary compliance to slow the spread of Covid-19.

High schools should shift to virtual learning, both school and non-school youth sports should be paused, people should choose outdoor dining or takeout instead of indoor seating, and they should avoid gathering with friends indoors, she said.

“We have to do this together. Lives depend on it, ” Whitmer said during a news conference, again urging residents to be vaccinated. “We’re going to have some tough weeks ahead. So I’m asking everyone — please, take this seriously.”

CDC teams in Michigan amid state’s Covid surge

APRIL 7, 202101:47

The Democratic governor also renewed her call for the federal government to send additional vaccines. The administration of President Joe Biden will provide extra resources but not doses.

About 40 percent of the state’s residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine shot, including 69 percent of those 65 and up. Chief medical officers of Michigan hospitals said vaccines are proving to be more than 99 percent effective in preventing illness, hospitalization and death. But they warned that variants are more contagious and deadly, and bringing more young people to the hospital.

The state health department issued guidance strongly encouraging high schools that remain open for face-to-face instruction to enroll in the state’s rapid coronavirus testing program, which was recently mandated for teen athletes.

As of Thursday, Michigan had the worst rate of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. over the previous two weeks. Related hospitalizations had more than quadrupled in a month and were 90 percent of the statewide peak from a year ago, leading some hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries. The seven-day average of new daily deaths has been rising for two weeks.

“Because we are seeing so many cases a day, our public health system is overwhelmed,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. “We are not able to get information on many cases, nor are we able to identify their close contacts.”

The governor has resisted reinstating past restrictions such as a stay-at-home order or bans on indoor dining, in-person instruction and youth contact sports that were criticized by Republican lawmakers. A mask requirement remains, as do capacity limits and caps on gathering sizes.

“It is less of a policy problem that we have and more of a compliance and variant issue that we are confronting as a state,” she said.

But she did not rule out future restrictions, saying nothing is off the table.

Months after recovering from COVID-19, millions may suffer from “brain or psychiatric disorders”

A new study reveals troubling long-term brain and psychiatric aftereffects in COVID-19 patients

APRIL 8, 2021 10:50AM (UTC)

main article imageCoronavirus on the brain (Getty Images)Facebook35TwitterRedditEmail8comments

An astonishing study found that roughly one out of three COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with either a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months of contracting COVID-19.

The shockingly high proportion of brain and psychiatric disorders in COVID-19 patients suggests that 10 million Americans (out of the 30 million who have contracted COVID-19) could suffer mental health repercussions in the coming years. That prophesies an impending social crisis for which American society is unprepared. TO CONTINUE READINGAdvertisement:

In an article published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, researchers revealed that out of more than 230,000 COVID-19 patients (most of them from the United States), approximately one out of three (33.6%) developed either neurological or psychiatric issues. That number rose to 38.7% for patients who were hospitalized, 46.4% for those who had to be admitted to an intensive treatment unit and 62.3% for those who were diagnosed with encephalopathy (a term that refers to any disease which alters the structure or function of your brain).

Although the researchers were unable to determine how COVID-19 leads to many of these conditions, they established that the most common psychiatric conditions linked to a COVID-19 diagnosis were anxiety and depression. There were also statistically significant cases of strokes, dementia and other neurological conditions, although these were more rare.

“These results are worrying and suggest COVID-19 is associated with a higher rate of long term psychological and neurological complications than have been observed in other respiratory diseases such as influenza,” Dr. Russell Medford, Chairman of the Center for Global Health Innovation and Global Health Crisis Coordination Center, told Salon by email. “In order to develop effective therapeutic, behavioral and public health interventions, this study emphasizes the urgent need for additional scientific and medical research to gain a better understanding of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of COVID-19 that may impact brain function and human behavior.”

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, wrote to Salon that scientists already know that “this virus causes significant impairments to several bodily organs beyond the lungs. These commonly include the heart kidneys, blood system and brain. The exact mechanisms are not well understood but are under intensive study.” When it comes to neurological effects, it had already been established that these ranged “from targeted functions like temporary but prolonged loss of taste and smell to prolonged episodes of headaches, debilitating physical fatigue or muscle weakness and difficulty with thinking clearly (brain fog).”

Want more health and science stories in your inbox? Subscribe to Salon’s weekly newsletter The Vulgar Scientist.

He added that survivors would need supportive care going forward and pointed out that “there are some studies looking at the use of monoclonal antibodies to see if they can halt or reverse some of the neurological symptoms. Scattered reports of improvements after vaccination have also been reported but these are not conclusive.”

“There are two separate issues: One is psychiatric and one is neurological,” Dr. William Haseltine, a biologist renowned for his work in confronting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, for fighting anthrax, and for advancing our knowledge of the human genome, told Salon. After noting that the new paper focuses more on psychological issues than neurological ones, Haseltine observed that scientists have already learned that COVID-19 can hurt your brain.

“It isn’t necessarily infection of the brain, but it is disturbance of the blood flow to the brain and the inflammation in the veins and arteries that serve the brain that leads to neurological damage,” Haseltine explained. “There is considerable evidence that that occurs.” He said that in addition to that, scientists know that “COVID-19 causes a lot of blood clots. It’s almost equivalent to what happens to the heart-lung machine. And that is, it sends up a lot of micro clots into multiple organs. The most important one for us in this case is the brain. And you get a lot of micro-clotting in the brain for people who’ve had severe and serious COVID-19.” He said that this is typical not just for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, but with many other viruses as well.

1 in 3 People Who Survive COVID-19 Are Left With ‘Brain Disease’ or Psychiatric Disorders, Says New Study

Anxiety and mood disorders were the most common issues among past COVID-19 patients—but more research is needed to know why.By Korin Miller April 07, 2021 1 in 3 People Who Survive COVID-19 Are Left With ‘Brain Disease’ or Psychiatric Disorders,×Direct LinkYou might like×1 in 3 People Who Survive COVID-19 Are Left With ‘Brain Disease’ or Psychiatric Disorders,COVID-Brain-Disease-Study14 COVID Vaccine Side Effects: Here’s What You Might Experience After You Get Your ShotCan You Still Spread COVID-19 Even After Getting Vaccinated? Here’s What We Know So FarCan You Get COVID-19 After Being Fully Vaccinated? This Woman Did—Here’s How It HappenedThis Man’s Skin Starting Peeling Off After He Got the COVID Vaccine in a Rare Reaction toCan You Drink Alcohol After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine? Here’s What Doctors RecommendWhat Should You Eat Before and After the COVID Vaccine? Here’s What a Nutritionist SaysAmy Schumer Just Got Red Carpet Ready to Get Her COVID-19 VaccineAn Illinois Bar Is the Center of a COVID Outbreak—and the CDC Says It Shows How Important Prevention Still IsCDC Director Warns of ‘Impending Doom’ as COVID-19 Cases Increase Across the USCan You Exercise After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine? Here’s What Experts SayCan the COVID Vaccine Affect Your Period? Some Women Say It’s Changed Theirs—Here’s What We Know Right NowCOVID Vaccine Passports Are Starting to Roll Out—Here’s How They’ll WorkWomen Are Reporting Worse Side Effects From the COVID-19 Vaccine—Here’s Why Experts Think8 Types of Rashes That Can Be a Sign of COVID-19This 23-Year-Old Nurse Was Left Paralyzed After COVID-19 Triggered a Rare Neurological Dis5 Reasons Why You Should Wear A Mask, According to ExpertsThe COVID-19 Pandemic Economy Has Hit LGBTQ+ People Hard, and Black Trans Folks HardestCOVID-19 Vaccine Myths, Debunked by ExpertsWhat Is Tinnitus? Auditory Condition May Be Linked to COVID-19—Here’s What to KnowA New Double Mutant Variant of COVID Was Detected in California—Here’s What We Know So FarFluvoxamine and COVID-19: Here’s How the OCD Drug Might Help Prevent COVID-19 Infections FFirst Baby Born With COVID Antibodies After Mom Got the Moderna Vaccine—Here’s Why That MaAlexa PenaVega Posts Candid Photos of Her Swollen Leg Veins During Pregnancy—Here’s What tParosmia Is a Post-COVID Side Effect That Distorts Your Sense of Smell—and More People AreThese Hand Sanitizers Were Found to Contain High Levels of Cancer-Causing Chemical BenzeneMyths About COVID-19 That Experts Want You to Stop BelievingThe First Trachea Transplant Was Performed on a Woman Who Lived With a Hole in Her ThroatAnhedonia Makes It Hard for People to Feel Joy—Here’s What That Means, According to ExpertCOVID Weight Gain Is Totally Normal: Try These 9 Nutritionist-Approved Tips for Dealing WiWhat to Know About the Bystander Effect—And How to Fight Against It, According to ExpertsWhat Is Xenophobia—And How Does It Affect a Person’s Health? Here’s What Experts SayCOVID SPOTLIGHT: Physical & Mental HealthWhat is an Eating Disorder? | Deep Dives | HealthGrace Victory, YouTube Star, Is ‘Awake’ After Giving Birth and Spending 3 Months in a COVIWoman Dies 2 Months After Receiving a Double-Lung Transplant From Someone With COVID-19Are Weighted Hula Hoops Safe? Experts Weigh In on the TikTok TrendThis Influencer Has Been Documenting the Bad Botox That Left Her With Misshapen EyesWoman, 36, Dies After Emergency C-Section Due to COVID-19: ‘She Was Beautiful Inside and OWhat Is ‘Herd Immunity’ and Can It Stop COVID-19?14 Types of Sleep Disorders—And When to Seek Treatment, According to ExpertsCDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Can Travel Within the US at ‘Low Risk’—Here’s How to Do IA 69-Year-Old Man With COVID Had a 3-Hour-Long Erection Due to Priapism—Here’s What That MFetal Cell Lines Were Used to Make the Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine—Here’s What That MeWhat Can You Do Once You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated for COVID? Here’s What the CDC SaysCan You Get Pregnant With Endometriosis? Here’s What Experts SayFINAL-What-COVID-19-Exposed-About-Getting-Sick-America-Website-Launch-Page-AnimationExpert Tips for Understanding OCD, and How to Treat It3 Pregnant Health Care Workers Explain Why They Did or Didn’t Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Researchers are continuing to study the long-term effects of COVID-19. And now, there’s evidence to suggest that a third of COVID-19 survivors are struggling with brain disease or other psychiatric disorders.

That’s the major takeaway from new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry on Tuesday. The study analyzed data over a six month period from 236,379 patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19. The researchers discovered that 34% of COVID-19 survivors had a diagnosis for either a neurological or psychological condition within six months after they were infected.



A little more than 17% of those patients were diagnosed with anxiety, while 14% were diagnosed with some form of mood disorder. A smaller number of former patients experienced brain hemorrhaging, stroke, or dementia—all of which can be considered types of brain disease.

The incidences were higher the more severe a person’s COVID-19 illness. More than 19% of patient who were in the ICU when they had COVID-19 struggled with anxiety, while nearly 3% were diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. The percentages of those who were diagnosed with neurological conditions like stroke and brain bleeding were also higher in this group.

RELATED: Does COVID-19 Cause Brain Damage? Here’s What We Know So Far

The researchers also compared data from people who had COVID-19 with those who had other respiratory tract infections at the same time. What they found: People who had COVID-19 had a 44% higher risk of neurological and psychiatric illness than those who recently recovered from the flu.

That said, the researchers also discovered that two neurological diseases that are common with viruses— Guillain-Barré and parkinsonism (a group pf neurological disorders that cause movement issues similar to Parkinson’s disease)—weren’t any more common in COVID-19 survivors than patients who had recovered from other viruses. In the study, the researchers said that the reason why was “unclear,” but also suggested that some patients may develop parkinsonism in the future, calling it a “delayed outcome.”

“Our results indicate that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after COVID-19 than after flu or other respiratory infections, even when patients are matched for other risk factors,” study co-author Max Taquet, PhD, a professor at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, said in a press release.

RELATED: Is Confusion a Symptom of COVID-19? Here’s What Experts Say

While the study didn’t uncover why this link exists, Paul Harrison, lead author of the study and associate head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Oxford, tells Health that there are some theories. “One of the more obvious explanations may be that COVID-19 affects the brain more than other viruses. It gets into the brain directly,” he says.

There is also a known link between severe illness and neurological and psychological complications, infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health. “This is well described in scientific literature,” he says, citing sedatives, paralytic medications, and disruption of the sleep-wake cycle as possible reasons why someone who is hospitalized with a serious illness might have brain after-effects. “But the mild cases…we don’t understand why that happens,” he says. “It may be the result of inflammation that occurs during the illness. We’ve really just started scratching the surface of what this means for mild cases.”

There are limitations to the study, though. “It could be that your doctor is more likely to notice the symptoms you may have,” Harrison says. “It could also be that people who are recovering from COVID are monitoring their bodies more closely and looking for symptoms.” However, Harrison says it’s more likely that COVID-19 actually impacts the brain in some way.

RELATED: Doctors Report Small Number of COVID-19 Patients Develop Severe Psychotic Symptoms—Here’s What to Know

This also isn’t the first study to link COVID-19 with brain disease. A study published in March 2020 of 730 COVID-19 patients in China found that 96.2% of them experienced some symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) after recovering from the virus. Another study of 381 former COVID-19 patients treated at a hospital in Rome, Italy, found that 30% experienced PTSD after they recovered from the virus.

And yet another study, this one of 74 patients in the Boston area who were diagnosed with COVID-19, found that 18 were admitted to the hospital due to stroke after having the virus, 15 had seizures, and 26 experienced confusion and delirium.

Research on the impact of COVID-19 on the brain is continuing, but Harrison says people who have had the virus shouldn’t panic. “Two-thirds of people did not have any of these problems,” he says. “The average person after COVID is not going to have these problems. We need to have this in perspective.” Still, if you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and are noticing any new neurological or psychiatric issues, it’s best to bring them up to your doctor.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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Brazil’s COVID-19 death surge set to pass the worst of record U.S. wave

by ReutersTuesday, 6 April 2021 13:46 GMT

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By Pedro Fonseca

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 6 (Reuters) – Brazil’s brutal surge in COVID-19 deaths will soon surpass the worst of a record January wave in the United States, climbing well beyond an average 3,000 fatalities per day, scientists predict, as contagious new variants overwhelm hospitals.

Brazil’s overall death toll trails only the U.S. outbreak, with nearly 333,000 killed, according to Health Ministry data, compared with more than 555,000 dead in the United States.

But with Brazil’s healthcare system at the breaking point, the country could also exceed total U.S. deaths, despite having two-thirds the population, two experts told Reuters.

“It’s a nuclear reactor that has set off a chain reaction and is out of control. It’s a biological Fukushima,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian doctor and professor at Duke University, who is closely tracking the virus.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has pushed back against mask-wearing and lockdowns that public health experts consider necessary. The country dragged its feet last year as the world raced to secure vaccines, slowing the launch of a national immunization program.

With weak measures failing to combat contagion, Brazil’s COVID-19 cases and deaths are accumulating faster than ever. On the other hand, a widespread U.S. vaccination campaign is rapidly curtailing what has been the world’s deadliest outbreak.

Nicolelis and Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at Brazilian medical institute Fiocruz, are separately predicting that Brazil could surpass the United States in both overall deaths and the record for average deaths per day.

As soon as next week, Brazil may break the record U.S. seven-day average for deaths, forecasts the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The U.S. average for daily deaths peaked at 3,285 in January.

The IHME forecast does not currently extend beyond July 1, when it projects Brazil could reach 563,000 deaths, compared with 609,000 U.S. casualties expected by then. (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca Writing by Jake Spring Editing by Brad Haynes and Jonathan Oatis)

Michigan adds more than 8,400 new Covid-19 cases in one day, the most since December

By Laura Ly and Alanne Orjoux, CNN

Updated 1:39 PM ET, Sun April 4, 2021

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(CNN)Michigan reported 8,413 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the state’s total pandemic case count to 692,206, according to the state’s health department.Saturday’s daily case count is the highest the state has reported since December 7, when the reported case count was 9,350, state statistics show.Just eight weeks ago, state data showed the daily reported case count was as low as 563 cases.

These are the two key things that can help curb another Covid-19 surge, Fauci says

These are the two key things that can help curb another Covid-19 surge, Fauci saysMichael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said the Upper Midwest is beginning to see its fourth surge.

“I think it was a wake-up call to everyone yesterday when Michigan reported out at 8,400 new cases, and we’re now seeing increasing number of severe illnesses, ICU hospitalizations, in individuals who are between 30 and 50 years of age who have not been vaccinated,” Osterholm said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Osterholm said that over the past year, there have been surges of cases that cycle between US regions, starting in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, which then subside, and move to the southern sunbelt states, which then subside and go back to the original regions.

Some Americans are acting like the pandemic is over. It's not

Some Americans are acting like the pandemic is over. It’s notMichigan also reported 57 Covid-19 deaths Saturday, with 51 of the deaths having been identified during a vital records review that the state conducts three times per week, the health department said. The state has recorded 9,947 Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic began.In the first three weeks of March, hospitalizations due to Covid-19 rose 633% for unvaccinated people between the ages of 30-39 and 800% for those aged 40-49, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.Dr. Justin Skrzynski, a Covid hospitalist for Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Michigan, said a random sampling of the Covid-19 tests in the state that are sent for DNA analysis indicate a worrying sign — a sharp increase in the variant first found in the UK, which experts say may be more contagious and possibly more lethal.More than 12,500 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been reported across the United States, according to CDC data, including more than 1,200 in Michigan.

Michigan had the second-highest number of cases of the variant, after Florida.”Right now the regular Covid test we do still just shows Covid/no Covid. But we do send a lot of those out to the state, and we are seeing something like 40% of our patients now with B.1.1.7,” he told CNN’s Miguel Marquez.

Arizona reports 3-week high of 940 new COVID-19 cases, with 12 deaths

Arizona reports 3-week high of 940 new COVID-19 cases, with 12 deaths

APRIL 2, 2021 AT 8:28 AM

Vials of AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at a filling lab at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, India, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Experts say there is a pressing need for India to bolster vaccination, which started sluggishly in January. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

PHOENIX – Arizona public health officials reported a three-week high of 940 new coronavirus cases on Friday along with 12 additional deaths from COVID-19.

The Arizona Department of Health Services said 120 of the new cases were from one lab reporting a backlog spanning the entire pandemic. However, Friday’s case update was the highest since March 12, with or without the backlog.

The state’s latest documented totals were 843,132 COVID-19 infections and 16,989 fatalities, according to the ADHS COVID-19 dashboard.

The dashboard also showed that 3,474,738 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, with 2,195,229 people (30.5% of the state’s population) having received at least one shot and 1,380,430 people fully vaccinated.

The number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inpatients in the state’s hospitals fell to 572 on Thursday, second-fewest since Oct. 4. The number of ICU beds used by COVID-19 patients dropped to 152, the fewest since Oct. 12.Related Links

The state health department’s daily updates present case, death and testing data after the state receives statistics and confirms them, which can lag by several days or more. They don’t represent the actual activity over the past 24 hours.

The hospitalization data posted each morning is reported electronically the previous evening by hospitals across the state.Related Links

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has no impact on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal for others. Infected people without symptoms — which include but are not limited to cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are capable of spreading the virus.

Diagnostic testing is available at hundreds of locations across Arizona and should be sought out by anybody with symptoms or who may have been exposed to an infected person. Information about locations, schedules and registration can be found on the Department of Health Services website.

All adults are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines from state-run sites and other providers in Maricopa County, with the minimum age at 16 for the Pfizer shot and 18 for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson versions.

Appointments at the five state-run mass vaccination sites for the following week are made available every Friday at 11 a.m., but they don’t last long.

For details about statewide vaccine availability, the ADHS website has a vaccine-finder page with a map of locations and information about registration and eligibility.

For information about metro Phoenix vaccine availability, Maricopa County Public Health has an interactive map that lists pharmacies, government-run sites, health clinics and pop-up distribution events.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit