Omicron better at entering young noses than other variants; loss of smell can predict memory problems


By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies of COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to confirm the findings and has yet to be certified by peer review.

Children’s noses defend less well against Omicron

The Omicron variant may be more efficient at infecting children through the nose than previous versions of the coronavirus, a small study suggests.

Earlier in the pandemic, children’s noses were less hospitable to the virus that causes COVID-19 than adults’ noses. Studies of the original SARS-CoV-2 and some of its variants showed that the virus experienced stronger immune responses in the cells lining the young noses than in the nasal cells of adults, and it was less efficient at making copies of itself in adults. children. noses. But recent test-tube experiments in which the virus was mixed with nasal cells from 23 healthy children and 15 healthy adults found that the antiviral defenses in the noses of children were “significantly less pronounced in the case of Omicron,” researchers reported Monday in PLOS Biology https:/ /journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001728. They also report that Omicron reproduced itself more efficiently in children’s nasal cells compared to both Delta and the original virus.

“These data are consistent with the increased number of pediatric infections observed during the Omicron wave,” the researchers wrote, asking for additional studies.

Smell problems can predict memory problems after COVID-19

According to an Argentine study, the severity of olfactory disorders after coronavirus infection may be a better predictor of cognitive impairment in the long term than the overall severity of COVID-19.

Researchers studied a random sample of 766 people over the age of 60, about 90% of whom were infected with the virus. Physical, cognitive and neuropsychiatric tests performed three to six months after infection showed some degree of memory impairment in two-thirds of the infected participants. After taking into account individuals’ other risk factors, severity of smell loss, known as anosmia, “but not clinical status, significant (predicted) cognitive impairment,” the researchers reported Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2022 https:// aaic.alz.org/overview.asp, held online and in San Diego.

“The more insight we have into what causes or at least predicts who will experience the significant long-term cognitive impact of a COVID-19 infection, the better we can monitor it and develop methods to prevent it,” study leader Gabriela Gonzalez-Aleman of Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires said in a statement.

Vaccination mandates linked to better staffing in nursing homes

In US states that mandated COVID-19 vaccines for nursing home staff, the rules achieved the desired effect and did not lead to mass layoffs and/or staff shortages, a study shows.

However, in states without such mandates, nursing homes experienced staff shortages during the study period, researchers reported Friday in JAMA Health Forum https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama-health-forum/fullarticle/2794727. Data collected from mid-June to mid-November 2021 from the National Healthcare Safety Network showed that in 12 states with COVID-19 vaccine mandates, staff vaccination rates ranged from 78.7% to 95.2%. States without mandate “had consistently lower staff vaccination rates throughout the study window” and “higher rates of reported staff shortages during the study period,” the report said.

“The association of mandates with higher vaccination coverage contrasts with previous efforts to increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among nursing home staff through education, outreach and incentives,” the researchers said. They added that the data “suggests that fears of massive staff shortages due to vaccine mandates may be unfounded.”

For a global COVID-19 tracker from Reuters click https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/index.html and for a Reuters COVID-19 vaccination tracker https://graphics .reuters.com /world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-roll-out-and-access.

(Reporting Nancy Lapid and Shawana Alleyne-Morris; edited by Bill Berkrot)

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