The amount of information about the coronavirus is dizzying. It is difficult to trace what is known, what is a myth and what guidelines we must follow. That’s why we’ve put together five of the most important new things we learned about COVID-19 in April:
1. That blood clots are related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – but they are extremely rarely.
The one-time Johnson & Johnson vaccine grabbed many headlines in April when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration called for a temporary pause in the spread of the vaccine.
The groups said they were “due to a lot of caution” looking at several incidents in which some recipients (all women, most under the age of 50) developed a rare disease involving blood clots and low blood platelets within two weeks of receiving their shot.
The CDC and FDA now report that there are 1
Given how rare the cases are – and the risk that COVID-19 continues to pose – the groups re-approve the vaccine, although it now has a warning of an extremely rare result.
“The benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh these risks, and we now have detailed information on the label that warns of these risks,” said EMA CEO Emer Cooke. “We are convinced that it can be deployed in an appropriate way.”
2. There may be a * link between vaccination and changes in the menstrual cycle.
In April, many anecdotes began to erupt on Twitter and in news about women who had undergone post-vaccination changes. In particular, some women report experiencing increased flow as well as late menstrual cycles.
At this time, health experts do not have much (or in fact) specific information about a possible link between vaccination and menstruation, in part because period-related symptoms have not been monitored during clinical trials. But periods can also be a real challenge to study.
“Menstruation is a complex process that can be affected by many factors, such as environmental changes, stress, sleep and certain medications,” said HuffPost’s Dr. Daniel Jones, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist based in Texas.
After all, while potential change is something that women’s health experts pay more attention to and that women themselves may want to know about, there is no real concern that it could be lasting, serious change.
In general, women who experience heavier menstrual cycles after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should adhere to what is usually recommended when struggling with a severe period, such as taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug or heat.
In addition, anyone experiencing intense symptoms after their vaccine is encouraged to report through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
3. Pregnant women may be at higher risk of serious COVID-19 results than previously thought.
COVID-19 may pose a greater risk to pregnant women and their babies than previously thought, an April study warned.
“Women with COVID-19 during pregnancy are more than 50% more likely to develop pregnancy complications (such as premature birth, preeclampsia, admission to intensive care and death) than pregnant women not affected by COVID-19,” she said. research researcher Dr. Aris Papageorgiou, professor of fetal medicine at Oxford University in England, in a press release.
Newborns whose mothers have been infected with COVID-19 are also almost three times more likely to develop severe medical complications, most of which are due to premature birth.
However, these increased risks appear to be concentrated in women who develop symptomatic COVID-19.
“The good news, however, is that the risks for asymptomatic women and uninfected women are similar,” Papageorgiou added.
And experts emphasize that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women.
4. Younger children are really less likely to spread the virus.
Unfortunately, much of the conversations about children and COVID-19 that take place at the policy level and on social media have no nuances – especially when it comes to how much risk children pose to others.
A new study published in April looking at data from Israel – where schools opened and closed several times during the pandemic – adds some clarity to the extent to which children contribute to the spread of coronavirus in their community, finding that younger students ( up to 9 years) have very low transmission rates.
“The results of our study show that children aged 0 to 9 years did not have significant levels of SARS-CoV-2 infection at school and it can be assumed that they did not play a significant role in the spread. of COVID-19 nor during this period, “the researchers wrote.
However, they could not confirm that the same was true for adolescents and recommended: “It is probably safer to resume schooling for young people aged 10 to 19 only when the epidemic is under control and after steps have been taken to reduce it. of prevalence in schools. “
5. COVID-19 vaccines do not pose an increased risk of facial paralysis.
In initial clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, a handful of participants developed Bell’s palsy, a condition that causes sudden weakness in half of the face, often in response to a viral infection.
Therefore, the FDA is monitoring people who have received these vaccines for potential cases of paralysis since last winter, while emphasizing that Bell’s palsy is not a side effect of the vaccines.
A new study published in April supports this claim, finding that there are no indications that COVID-19 vaccines should increase a person’s risk of developing facial paralysis or related events (such as facial spasms). The researchers analyzed more than 133,000 cases of vaccine-related adverse reactions reported to the World Health Organization and found that less than 1% were related to facial paralysis.
They note that this is on a par with what is reported for other viral vaccines, as well as among those who receive the flu vaccine.
“The risk,” write researchers at JAMA Internal Medicine, “is probably very low, as with other virus vaccines.”
Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but guidelines may change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest recommendations.