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5 new things we learned about COVID-19 in April 2021

The amount of information about the coronavirus is staggering. It’s hard to keep track of what’s known, what a myth is, and tips to follow. That’s why we’ve rounded up five of the most important new things we learned about COVID-19 in April:

1. These blood clots have been linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – but they extremely rare.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-injection vaccine made headlines in April when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration called for a temporary hiatus on vaccine distribution.

The groups said that “out of great caution” they were looking at a handful of 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 the FDA have now reported that there were 15 known cases of women who experienced this extremely rare outcome within two weeks of vaccination. This means that it is a result observed in 1.9 people for every million people who received the blow.

Given the rarity of cases – and the risk COVID-19 continues to pose – groups have re-approved the vaccine, though it now carries a warning about the extremely rare outcome.

“The benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh these risks, and we now have detailed information in the labeling that alerts to these risks,” said EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke. “We are confident that it can be deployed in an appropriate manner.”

2. There * could * be a link between vaccination and changes in the menstrual cycle.

In April, many anecdotes began to bubble up on Twitter and in news reports about women who experienced period-related changes after vaccination. Specifically, some women report that they experience increased flow as well as late menstrual cycles.

Health experts don’t really (or really have any) concrete information about a possible vaccination / menstruation link at this point, in part because period symptoms were not tracked during clinical trials. But also, rules can be a really hard thing to study.

“Menstruation is a complex process, which can be influenced by many factors, such as environmental changes, stress, sleep, and certain medications,” Board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist Dr. Danielle Jones previously told HuffPost. directors based in Texas.

Ultimately, while the potential changes are something women’s health experts are paying more attention to and women themselves may want to be aware of, there is no real concern about it. may these changes be lasting and serious.

In general, women who have heavier menstrual cycles after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should stick to what is generally recommended when struggling with a heavy period, such as taking an anti-inflammatory drug in over-the-counter or apply heat.

In addition, anyone who has severe symptoms after receiving their vaccine is encouraged to submit a report through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

3. Pregnant women may be at higher risk of serious consequences from COVID-19 than previously thought.

COVID-19 could pose a higher risk to pregnant women and their babies than previously thought, an April study warned.

“Women with COVID-19 during pregnancy were over 50% more likely to experience pregnancy complications (such as premature birth, pre-eclampsia, ICU admission and death) compared to pregnant women unaffected by COVID-19, ”study researcher Dr Aris Papageorghiou, professor of fetal medicine at the University of Oxford in England said in a press release.

Newborns whose mothers were infected with COVID-19 were also almost three times more likely to develop serious medical complications, most of which were 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 in asymptomatic infected women and uninfected women were similar,” Papageorghiou added.

And experts point out that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women.

4. Young children are much less likely to spread the virus.

Sadly, much of the conversation about children and COVID-19 that has taken place politically and on social media lacks nuance – especially when it comes to the risk children pose to others.

New research published in April that looked at data from Israel – where schools have opened and closed multiple times during the pandemic – has added some clarity to the question of how much children are contributing to the spread of the coronavirus in their community, finding that younger students (up to 9 years old) have very low transmission rates.

“The results of our study suggest that children aged 0 to 9 did not have substantial rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection during periods of school attendance, and it can be assumed that they did not. also not played a substantial role in the spread of COVID-19 during this time. period, ”the researchers wrote.

They could not confirm that the same was true for adolescents, however, and recommended that: “It is probably safer to resume school attendance for young people aged 10 to 19 only when the epidemic is under. control and after the implementation of measures to reduce the spread. in schools.”

5. COVID-19 vaccines do not pose an increased risk of facial paralysis.

In the first clinical trials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, a handful of participants developed Bell’s palsy – a disease that causes sudden weakness in half of the face, often in response to a viral infection.

For this reason, the FDA is monitoring people who have received these vaccines for possible cases of paralysis since last winter, while stressing throughout that it does not view Bell’s palsy as a side effect of the vaccines. .

New research published in April supports this claim, finding that there is no sign that COVID-19 vaccines should increase a person’s risk of developing facial paralysis or related events (like facial spasms). The researchers analyzed more than 133,000 cases of adverse reactions to the vaccine that were reported to the World Health Organization and found that less than 1% were linked to facial paralysis.

They note that this is comparable to what is reported for other viral vaccines, as well as among those who receive the flu shot.

“The risk,” the researchers wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine, “is probably very low, as with other viral 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 directions may change as scientists find out more about the virus. Please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most recent recommendations.

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