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Archive for the ‘COVID-19 effects on Human Heart’ Category

C.D.C. Reviewing Cases of Heart Problem in Youngsters After Getting Vaccinated and AHA Reassures that Benefits Overwhelm the Risks of Vaccination

Reporter: Amandeep Kaur, B.Sc. , M.Sc.

The latest article in New York times reported by Apoorva Mandavilli outlines the statement of officials that C.D.C. agency is investigating few cases of young adults and teenagers who might have developed myocarditis after getting vaccinated. It is not confirmed by the agency that whether this condition is caused by vaccine or not.

According to the vaccine safety group of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the reports of heart problems experienced by youngsters is relatively very small in number. The group stated that these cases could be unlinked to vaccination. The condition of inflammation of heart muscle which can occur due to certain infections is known as myocarditis.

Moreover, the agency still has to determine any evidence related to vaccines causing the heart issues. The C.D.C. has posted on its website the updated guidance for doctors and clinicians, urging them to be alert to uncommon symptoms related to heart cases among teenagers who are vaccine recipients.

In New York, Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center stated that “It may simply be a coincidence that some people are developing myocarditis after vaccination. It’s more likely for something like that to happen by chance, because so many people are getting vaccinated right now.”

The article reported that the cases appeared mainly in young adults after about four days of their second shot of mRNA vaccines, made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. Such cases are more prevalent in males as compared to females.

The vaccine safety group stated “Most cases appear to be mild, and follow-up of cases is ongoing.” It is strongly recommended by C.D.C. that American young adults from the age of 12 and above should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’s Committee on Infectious Diseases stated “We look forward to seeing more data about these cases, so we can better understand if they are related to the vaccine or if they are coincidental. Meanwhile, it’s important for pediatricians and other clinicians to report any health concerns that arise after vaccination.”

Experts affirmed that the potentially uncommon side effects of myocarditis get insignificant compared to the potential risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including the continuous syndrome known as “long Covid.” It is reported in the article that acute Covid can lead to myocarditis.

According to the data collected by A.A.P, about 16 thousand children were hospitalized and more than 3.9 million children were infected by coronavirus till the second week of May. In the United States, about 300 children died of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which makes it among the top 10 death causes in children since the start of pandemic.

Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston stated that “And that’s in the context of all the mitigation measures taken.”

According to researchers, about 10 to 20 of every 1 lakh people each year develop myocarditis in the general population, facing symptoms from fatigue and chest pain to arrhythmias and cardiac arrest, whereas some have mild symptoms which remain undiagnosed.

Currently, the number of reports of myocarditis after vaccination is less than that reported normally in young adults, confirmed by C.D.C. The article reported that the members of vaccine safety group felt to communicate the information about upcoming cases of myocarditis to the providers.

The C.D.C. has not yet specified the ages of the patients involved in reporting. Since December 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for young people of age 16 and above. The Food and Drug Administration extended the authorization to children of age 12 to 15 years, by the starting of this month.

On 14th May, the clinicians have been alerted by C.D.C. regarding the probable link between myocarditis and vaccination. Within three days, the team started reviewing data on myocarditis, reports filed with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and others from the Department of Defense.

A report on seven cases has been submitted to the journal Pediatrics for review and State health departments in Washington, Oregon and California have notified emergency providers and cardiologists about the potential problem.

In an interview, Dr. Liam Yore, past president of the Washington State chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians detailed a case of teenager with myocarditis after vaccination. The patient was provided treatment for mild inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and was discharged afterwards. Later, the young adult returned for care due to decrease in the heart’s output. Dr. Yore reported that still he had come across worse cases in youngsters with Covid, including in a 9-year-old child who arrived at the hospital after a cardiac arrest last winter.

He stated that “The relative risk is a lot in favor of getting the vaccine, especially considering how coronavirus vaccine have been administered.”

In the United States, more than 161 million people have received their first shot of vaccine in which about 4.5 million people were between the age 12 to 18 years.

Benefits Overwhelm Risks of COVID Vaccination, AHA Reassures

The latest statement of American Heart Association (AHA)/ American Stroke Association (ASA) on May 23rd states that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination enormously outweigh the rare risk for myocarditis cases, which followed the C.D.C. report that the agency is tracking the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) for myocarditis cases linked with mRNA vaccines against coronavirus.

The myocarditis cases in young adults are more often observed after the second dose of vaccine rather than the first one, and have more cases of males than females. The CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Technical Work Group (VaST) observed such heart complications after 4 days of vaccination.

CDC reported that “Within CDC safety monitoring systems, rates of myocarditis reports in the window following COVID-19 vaccination have not differed from expected baseline rates.”

The CDC team stated that “The evidence continues to indicate that the COVID-19 vaccines are nearly 100% effective at preventing death and hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, and Strongly urged all young adults and children 12 years and above to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Even though the analysis of myocarditis reports related to coronavirus vaccine is in progress, the AHA/ASA stated that “myocarditis is typically the result of an actual viral infection, and it is yet to be determined if these cases have any correlation to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and former acting director of the CDC stated on ABC’s Good Morning America “We’ve lost hundreds of children and there have been thousands who have been hospitalized, thousands who developed an inflammatory syndrome, and one of the pieces of that can be myocarditis.” He added “still, from my perspective, the risk of COVID is so much greater than any theoretical risk from the vaccine.”

After COVID-19 vaccination the symptoms that occur include tiredness, muscle pain, headaches, chills, nausea and fever. The AHA/ASA stated that “typically appear within 24 to 48 hours and usually pass within 36-48 hours after receiving the vaccine.”

All healthcare providers are suggested to be aware of the rare adverse symptoms such as myocarditis, low platelets, blood clots, and severe inflammation. The agency stated that “Healthcare professionals should strongly consider inquiring about the timing of any recent COVID vaccination among patients presenting with these conditions, as needed, in order to provide appropriate treatment quickly.”

President Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA, FAAN, Immediate Past President Robert A. Harrington, M.D., FAHA, President-Elect Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, Chief Science and Medical Officer Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA, and Chief Medical Officer for Prevention Eduardo Sanchez, M.D, M.P.H., FAAFP are science leaders of AHA/ASA and reflected their views in the following statements:

We strongly urge all adults and children ages 12 and older in the U.S. to receive a COVID vaccine as soon as they can receive it, as recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC. The evidence continues to indicate that the COVID-19 vaccines are nearly 100% effective at preventing death and hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection. According to the CDC as of May 22, 2021, over 283 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. since December 14, 2020, and more than 129 million Americans are fully vaccinated (i.e., they have received either two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine).

We remain confident that the benefits of vaccination far exceed the very small, rare risks. The risks of vaccination are also far smaller than the risks of COVID-19 infection itself, including its potentially fatal consequences and the potential long-term health effects that are still revealing themselves, including myocarditis. The recommendation for vaccination specifically includes people with cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes, those with heart disease, and heart attack and stroke survivors, because they are at much greater risk of an adverse outcome from the COVID-19 virus than they are from the vaccine.

We commend the CDC’s continual monitoring for adverse events related to the COVID-19 vaccines through VAERS and VSD, and the consistent meetings of ACIP’s VaST Work Group, demonstrating transparent and robust attention to any and all health events possibly related to a COVID-19 vaccine. The few cases of myocarditis that have been reported after COVID-19 vaccination are being investigated. However, myocarditis is usually the result of a viral infection, and it is yet to be determined if these cases have any correlation to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, especially since the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. do not contain any live virus.

We also encourage everyone to keep in touch with their primary care professionals and seek care immediately if they have any of these symptoms in the weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine: chest pain including sudden, sharp, stabbing pains; difficulty breathing/shortness of breath; abnormal heartbeat; severe headache; blurry vision; fainting or loss of consciousness; weakness or sensory changes; confusion or trouble speaking; seizures; unexplained abdominal pain; or new leg pain or swelling.

We will stay up to date with the CDC’s recommendations regarding all potential complications related to COVID-19 vaccines, including myocarditis, pericarditis, central venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and other blood clotting events, thrombosis thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), and vaccine-induced immune thrombosis thrombocytopenia (VITT).

The American Heart Associationrecommends all health care professionals be aware of these very rare adverse events that may be related to a COVID-19 vaccine, including myocarditis, blood clots, low platelets, or symptoms of severe inflammation. Health care professionals should strongly consider inquiring about the timing of any recent COVID vaccination among patients presenting with these conditions, as needed, in order to provide appropriate treatment quickly. As detailed in last month’s AHA/ASA statement, all suspected CVST or blood clots associated with the COVID-19 vaccine should be treated initially using non-heparin anticoagulants. Heparin products should not be administered in any dose if TTS/VITT is suspected, until appropriate testing can be done to exclude heparin-induced antibodies. In addition, health care professionals are required to report suspected vaccine-related adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, in accordance with federal regulations.

Individuals should refer to their local and state health departments for specific information about when and where they can get vaccinated. We implore everyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated so we can return to being together, in person – enjoying life with little to no risk of severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization or death.

We also support the CDC recommendations last week that loosen restrictions on mask wearing and social distancing for people who are fully vaccinated. For those who are unable to be vaccinated, we reiterate the importance of handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks, particularly for people at high risk of infection and/or severe COVID-19. These simple precautions remain crucial to protecting people who are not vaccinated from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Source:

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal, including the following:

Thriving Vaccines and Research: Weizmann Institute Coronavirus Research Development

Reporter: Amandeep Kaur, B.Sc., M.Sc.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/05/04/thriving-vaccines-and-research-weizmann-coronavirus-research-development/

Identification of Novel genes in human that fight COVID-19 infection

Reporter: Amandeep Kaur, B.Sc., M.Sc.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/04/19/identification-of-novel-genes-in-human-that-fight-covid-19-infection/

Fighting Chaos with Care, community trust, engagement must be cornerstones of pandemic response

Reporter: Amandeep Kaur, B.Sc., M.Sc. 

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/04/13/fighting-chaos-with-care/

T cells recognize recent SARS-CoV-2 variants

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/03/30/t-cells-recognize-recent-sars-cov-2-variants/

Need for Global Response to SARS-CoV-2 Viral Variants

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/02/12/need-for-global-response-to-sars-cov-2-viral-variants/

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COVID vaccines by Pfizer, AstraZeneca are probed in Europe after reports of heart inflammation, rare nerve disorder

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

  1. PRAC concludes review of signal of facial swelling with COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty
  2. PRAC concludes review of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets1 with Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine
  3. PRAC continues to closely review Comirnaty and COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna for unusual blood clots with low blood platelets2
  4. PRAC assessing reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome with AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine
  5. PRAC assessing reports of myocarditis with Comirnaty and COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna

Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID vaccines probed in Europe after reports of heart inflammation, rare nerve disorder

by Noah Higgins-Dunn | May 7, 2021 11:30am

Start Quote from European Medicines Agency document

Meeting highlights from the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) 3-6 May 2021

News 07/05/2021

This month EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) reviewed a number of safety signals related to COVID-19 vaccines. The evaluation of safety signals is a routine part of pharmacovigilance and is essential to ensuring that regulatory authorities have a comprehensive knowledge of a medicine’s benefits and risks.

PRAC concludes review of signal of facial swelling with COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty

PRAC has recommended a change to Comirnaty’s product information. After reviewing all the available evidence, including cases reported to the European database for suspected side effects (EudraVigilance) and data from the scientific literature, PRAC considered that there is at least a reasonable possibility of a causal association between the vaccine and the reported cases of facial swelling in people with a history of injections with dermal fillers (soft, gel-like substances injected under the skin). Therefore, PRAC concluded that facial swelling in people with a history of injections with dermal fillers should be included as a side effect in section 4.8 of the summary of product characteristics (SmPC) and in section 4 of the patient information leaflet (PIL) for Comirnaty. The benefit-risk balance of the vaccine remains unchanged.

PRAC concludes review of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets1 with Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine

PRAC has now concluded its review of COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen and confirmed, as previously communicated, that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects. In finalising the review, the Committee recommended on 20 April further refinement of the warning about thrombosis (formation of blood clots in the vessels) with thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets) syndrome, which was listed previously in the product information for COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen. The product information will now also include advice that patients who are diagnosed with thrombocytopenia within three weeks of vaccination should be actively investigated for signs of thrombosis. Similarly, patients who present with thromboembolism within three weeks of vaccination should be evaluated for thrombocytopenia. Lastly, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome will be added as an ‘important identified risk’ in the risk management plan for the vaccine. Furthermore, the marketing authorisation holder will provide a plan to further study the possible underlying mechanisms for these very rare events.

PRAC continues to closely review Comirnaty and COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna for unusual blood clots with low blood platelets2

The PRAC is closely monitoring whether mRNA vaccines might also be linked to cases of rare, unusual blood clots with low blood platelets, a side effect that has been reported in Vaxzevria and COVID-19 vaccine Janssen. Following a review of reports of suspected side effects, the PRAC considers at this stage that there is no safety signal for the mRNA vaccines. Only few cases of blood clots with low blood platelets have been reported. When seen in the context of the exposure of people to the mRNA vaccines, these numbers are extremely low, and their frequency is lower than the one occurring in people who have not been vaccinated. In addition, these cases do not seem to present the specific clinical pattern observed with Vaxzevria and COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen. Overall, the current evidence does not suggest a causal relation.

EMA will continue to monitor this issue closely and communicate further if necessary.

Topics of interests from enhanced monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines

Enhanced safety monitoring in the form of pandemic summary safety reports is one of the commitments required from the marketing authorisation holders in the context of the conditional marketing authorisationMarketing authorisation holders are required to submit pandemic summary safety reports to EMA on a monthly basis. These reports are reviewed by the PRAC and any areaof concern further investigated, if needed.

PRAC assessing reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome with AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine

As part of the review of the regular pandemic summary safety reports for Vaxzevria, AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, the PRAC is analysing data provided by the marketing authorisation holder on cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) reported following vaccination. GBS is an immune system disorder that causes nerve inflammation and can result in pain, numbness, muscle weakness and difficulty walking. GBS was identified during the marketing authorisation process as a possible adverse event requiring specific safety monitoring activities. PRAC has requested the marketing authorisation holder to provide further detailed data, including an analysis of all the reported cases in the context of the next pandemic summary safety report.

PRAC will continue its review and will communicate further when new information becomes available.

PRAC assessing reports of myocarditis with Comirnaty and COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna

EMA is aware of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) mainly reported following vaccination with Comirnaty. There is no indication at the moment that these cases are due to the vaccine. However, PRAC has requested the marketing authorisation holder to provide further detailed data, including an analysis of the events according to age and gender, in the context of the next pandemic summary safety report and will consider if any other regulatory action is needed. Additionally, the PRAC has requested the marketing authorisation holder for COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna  also an mRNA vaccine – to monitor similar cases with their vaccine and to also provide a detailed analysis of the events in the context of the next pandemic summary safety report. EMA will communicate further when new information becomes available.


1Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome
2Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome

SOURCE

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/meeting-highlights-pharmacovigilance-risk-assessment-committee-prac-3-6-may-2021

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Nir Hacohen and Marcia Goldberg, Researchers at MGH and the Broad Institute identify protein “signature” of severe COVID-19

Curator and Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Longitudinal proteomic analysis of plasma from patients with severe COVID-19 reveal patient survival-associated signatures, tissue-specific cell death, and cell-cell interactions

Open AccessPublished:April 30, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100287

Highlights

  • 16% of COVID-19 patients display an atypical low-inflammatory plasma proteome
  • Severe COVID-19 is associated with heterogeneous plasma proteomic responses
  • Death of virus-infected lung epithelial cells is a key feature of severe disease
  • Lung monocyte/macrophages drive T cell activation, together promoting epithelial damage

Summary

Mechanisms underlying severe COVID-19 disease remain poorly understood. We analyze several thousand plasma proteins longitudinally in 306 COVID-19 patients and 78 symptomatic controls, uncovering immune and non-immune proteins linked to COVID-19. Deconvolution of our plasma proteome data using published scRNAseq datasets reveals contributions from circulating immune and tissue cells. Sixteen percent of patients display reduced inflammation yet comparably poor outcomes. Comparison of patients who died to severely ill survivors identifies dynamic immune cell-derived and tissue-associated proteins associated with survival, including exocrine pancreatic proteases. Using derived tissue-specific and cell type-specific intracellular death signatures, cellular ACE2 expression, and our data, we infer whether organ damage resulted from direct or indirect effects of infection. We propose a model in which interactions among myeloid, epithelial, and T cells drive tissue damage. These datasets provide important insights and a rich resource for analysis of mechanisms of severe COVID-19 disease.

Graphical Abstract

Figure thumbnail fx1

Image Source: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100287

https://www.cell.com/cell-reports-medicine/fulltext/S2666-3791(21)00115-4

The quest to identify mechanisms that might be contributing to death in COVID-19: Why do some patients die from this disease, while others — who appear to be just as ill do not?

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have identified the protein “signature” of severe COVID-19

Interest was to develop methods for studying human immune responses to infections, which they had applied to the condition known as bacterial sepsis. The three agreed to tackle this new problem with the goal of understanding how the human immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2, the novel pathogen that causes COVID-19.

How scientists launched a study in days to probe COVID-19’s unpredictability

Collecting these specimens required a large team of collaborators from many departments, which worked overtime for five weeks to amass blood samples from 306 patients who tested positive for COVID-19, as well as from 78 patients with similar symptoms who tested negative for the coronavirus.

Alexandra-Chloé Villani

Credit : Alexandra-Chloé VillaniResearch associates at Mass General who worked countless hours to process blood samples for the COVID Acute Cohort Study (from left to right: Anna Gonye, Irena Gushterova, and Tom Lasalle)By Leah Eisenstadt

https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/how-scientists-launched-study-days-probe-covid-19%E2%80%99s-unpredictability

As the COVID-19 surge began in March, Mass General and Broad researchers worked around the clock to begin learning why some patients fare worse with the disease than others

Protein signatures in the blood

https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/researchers-identify-protein-%E2%80%9Csignature%E2%80%9D-severe-covid-19

The study found that most patients with COVID-19 have a consistent protein signature, regardless of disease severity; as would be expected, their bodies mount an immune response by producing proteins that attack the virus. “But we also found a small subset of patients with the disease who did not demonstrate the pro-inflammatory response that is typical of other COVID-19 patients,” Filbin said, yet these patients were just as likely as others to have severe disease. Filbin, who is also an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), noted that patients in this subset tended to be older people with chronic diseases, who likely had weakened immune systems.

Among other revelations, this showed that the most prevalent severity-associated protein, a pro-inflammatory protein called interleukin-6 (IL-6) rose steadily in patients who died, while it rose and then dropped in those with severe disease who survived. Early attempts by other groups to treat COVID-19 patients experiencing acute respiratory distress with drugs that block IL-6 were disappointing, though more recent studies show promise in combining these medications with the steroid dexamethasone.

Hacohen, who is a professor of medicine at HMS and director of the Broad’s Cell Circuits Program:

“You can ask which of the many thousands of proteins that are circulating in your blood are associated with the actual outcome,” he said, “and whether there is a set of proteins that tell us something.”

Goldberg, who is a professor of emergency medicine at HMS:

They are highly likely to be useful in figuring out some of the underlying mechanisms that lead to severe disease and death in COVID-19,” she said, noting her gratitude to the patients involved in the study. Their samples are already being used to study other aspects of COVID-19, such as identifying the qualities of antibodies that patients form against the virus.

SOURCES

Original Research

Filbin MR, Mehta A, et al. Longitudinal proteomic analysis of plasma from patients with severe COVID-19 reveal patient survival-associated signatures, tissue-specific cell death, and cell-cell interactionsCell Reports Medicine. Online April 30, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100287.

Adapted from a press release originally issued by Massachusetts General Hospital.

https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/researchers-identify-protein-%E2%80%9Csignature%E2%80%9D-severe-covid-19

https://www.cell.com/cell-reports-medicine/fulltext/S2666-3791(21)00115-4

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Mechanism of thrombosis with AstraZeneca and J & J vaccines: Expert Opinion by Kate Chander Chiang & Ajay Gupta, MD

UPDATED on 4/15/2021


Atul Gawande@Atul_Gawande
·

Why wait for more info? A new case of cerebral sinus venus thrombosis was reported in a 25 year old man who became critically ill from a cerebral hemorrhage. And for women age 20-50, CSVT occurred in 1 in 13,000, or 4-15X higher than background.

UPDATED on 4/14/2021

How UK doctor linked rare blood-clotting to AstraZeneca Covid jab

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/apr/13/how-uk-doctor-marie-scully-blood-clotting-link-astrazeneca-covid-jab-university-college-london-hospital

From: “Gupta, Ajay” <ajayg1@hs.uci.edu>

Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 10:33 AM

To: “Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN” <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Cc: Kate Chiang <kcscience777@gmail.com>

Subject: Mechanism of thrombosis with AstraZeneca and J & J vaccines

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/joint-cdc-and-fda-statement-johnson-johnson-covid-19-vaccine

We have put together the following mechanism for thrombosis including central vein sinus thrombosis as a complication of both J&J and the AstraZeneca vaccines. This unifying mechanism explains the predilection of cerebral veins and higher risk in younger women. Please share your thoughts on the proposed mechanism.

We have submitted the attached manuscript to SSRN.  Sharing this promptly considering the public health significance.

Thanks

Figure 1. AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine induced thromboinflammation and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST)-Proposed Mechanisms: Adenovirus carrier delivers SARS-CoV-2 DNA encoding the Spike (S) protein to the lung megakaryocytes via the coxsackie-adenovirus receptor (CAR). Spike protein induces COX-2 expression in megakaryocytes leading to megakaryocyte activation, biogenesis of activated platelets that express COX-2 and generate thromboxane A2 (TxA2). Cerebral vein sinus endothelial cells express podoplanin, a natural ligand for CLEC2 receptors on platelets. Platelets traversing through the cerebral vein sinuses would be further activated by TxA2 dependent podoplanin-CLEC2 signaling, leading to release of extracellular vesicles, thereby promoting CLEC5A and TLR2 mediated neutrophil activation, thromboinflammation, CVST, and thromboembolism in other vascular beds. Young age and female gender are associated with increased TxA2 generation and platelet activation respectively, and hence increased risk of thromboembolic complications following vaccination.

Best regards,

Ajay

Ajay Gupta, M.B.,B.S., M.D.

Clinical Professor,

Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation

University of California Irvine  

President & CSO, KARE Biosciences (www.karebio.com)

E-mail:     ajayg1@hs.uci.edu

Cell:         1 (562) 412-6259

Office:     1 (562) 419-7029

PERSPECTIVE 

Title: SARS-CoV-2 vaccination induced thrombosis: Is chemoprophylaxis with antiplatelet agents warranted? 

Guest Authors: 

Kate Chander Chiang1 

Ajay Gupta, MBBS, MD1,2 

Affiliations 

(1) KARE Biosciences, Orange, CA 92869 

(2) Department of Medicine, University of California Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine, Orange, CA 92868 

*Corresponding author: 

Ajay Gupta, MBBS, MD 

Clinical Professor of Medicine, 

Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation 

University of California Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine, 

Orange, CA 92868 

Tel: +1 (562) 412-6259 

E-mail: ajayg1@hs.uci.edu 

Word Count 

Abstract: 359 

Main Body: 1,648 

Funding: No funding was required. 

Conflict of Interest: AG and KCC have filed a patent for use of Ramatroban as an anti-thrombotic and immune modulator in SARS-CoV-2 infection. The patents have been licensed to KARE Biosciences. KCC is an employee of KARE Biosciences. 

Author Contributions: AG and KCC conceptualized, created the framework, wrote and reviewed the manuscript. 

Abbreviations: TxA2, thromboxane A2; DIC, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy; COX, cyclooxygenase; TTP, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura; CVST, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis; CLEC, C-type lectin-like receptor; TLR, toll-like receptor; CAR, coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor; COVID-19, coronavirus disease 2019; SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 2 

ABSTRACT 

The COVID-19 vaccines, Vaxzevria® (AstraZeneca) and the Janssen vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) are highly effective but associated with rare thrombotic complications. These vaccines are comprised of recombinant, replication incompetent, chimpanzee adenoviral vectors encoding the Spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. The adenovirus vector infects epithelial cells expressing the coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR). The S glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 is expressed locally stimulating neutralizing antibody and cellular immune responses, which protect against COVID-19. The immune responses are highly effective in preventing symptomatic disease in adults irrespective of age, gender or ethnicity. However, both vaccines have been associated with thromboembolic events including cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). Megakaryocytes also express CAR, leading us to postulate adenovirus vector uptake and expression of spike glycoprotein by megakaryocytes. Spike glycoprotein induces expression of cyclooxygenase -2 (COX-2), leading to generation of thromboxane A2 (TxA2). TxA2 promotes megakaryocyte activation, biogenesis of activated platelets and thereby increased thrombogenicity. Cerebral vein sinus endothelial cells express podoplanin, a natural ligand for CLEC2 receptors on platelets. Platelets traversing through the cerebral vein sinuses would be further activated by TxA2 dependent podoplanin-CLEC2 signaling, leading to CVST. The mechanisms proposed are consistent with the following clinical observations. First, a massive increase in TxA2 generation promotes platelet activation and thromboinflammation in COVID-19 patients. Second, TxA2 generation and platelet activation is increased in healthy women compared to men, and in younger mice compared to older mice; and, younger age and female gender appear to be associated with increased risk of thromboembolism as a complication of adenoviral vector based COVID-19 vaccine. The roll out of both AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines has been halted for adults under 30-60 years of age in many countries. We propose that antiplatelet agents targeting TxA2 receptor signaling should be considered for chemoprophylaxis when administering the adenovirus based COVID-19 vaccines to adults under 30-60 years of age. In many Asian and African countries, only adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccines are available at present. A short course of an antiplatelet agent such as aspirin could allow millions to avail of the benefits of the AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines which could be otherwise either denied to them or put them at undue risk of thromboembolic complications. 

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Vaxzevria, COVISHIELD, Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson vaccine, AstraZeneca vaccine, AZD1222, thrombosis, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, thromboembolism, aspirin, antiplatelet agents, thromboxane, COX-2, disseminated intravascular coagulation, thrombocytopenia, thrombotic thrombocytopenia, CLEC2, megakaryocyte 3 

COVID-19 disease is caused by a novel positive-strand RNA coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which belongs to the Coronaviridae family, along with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses.1 The genome of these viruses encodes several non-structural and structural proteins, including spike (S), envelope (E), membrane (M), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins.2 The majority of the vaccines for COVID-19 that employ administration of viral antigens or viral gene sequences aim to induce neutralizing antibodies against the viral spike protein (S), preventing uptake through the ACE2 receptor, and thereby blocking infection.3 

The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) is comprised of a recombinant, replication- incompetent Ad26 vector, encoding a stabilized variant of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein. The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222, Vaxzevria®) was developed at Oxford University and consists of a replication-deficient chimpanzee adenoviral vector ChAdOx1, encoding the S protein.4 In US Phase III trials, Vaxzevria has been demonstrated to have 79% efficacy at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, and 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease and hospitalization, with comparable efficacy across ethnicity, gender and age.5 However, Vaxzevria has been associated with thrombotic and embolic events including disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), occurring within 14 days after vaccination, mostly in people under 55 years of age, the majority of whom have been women.6 Data from Europe suggests that the event rate for thromboembolic events may be about 10 per million vaccinated. Antibodies to platelet factor 4/heparin complexes have been recently reported in a few patients.7 However, the significance of this finding remains to be established. As of April 12, 2021, about 6.8 million doses of the Janssen vaccine have been administered in the U.S.8 CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of CVST in combination with thrombocytopenia.8 All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.8 

SARS-CoV-2 is known to cause thromboinflammation leading to thrombotic microangiopathy, pulmonary thrombosis, pedal acro-ischemia (“COVID-toes”), arterial clots, strokes, cardiomyopathy, coronary and systemic vasculitis, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and microvascular thrombosis in renal, cardiac and brain vasculature.9-14 Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) has also been reported in COVID-19 patients.15 Amongst 34,331 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, CVST was diagnosed in 28.16 In a multicenter, multinational, cross sectional, retrospective study of 8 patients diagnosed with CVST and COVID-19, seven were women.17 In another series of 41 patients with COVID-19 and CVST, the average age was about 50 years (SD, 16.5 years).17 The pathobiology of thrombotic events associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be viewed in the context of mechanisms underlying thromboinflammation that complicates SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease. 

A. Role of COX-2 and thromboxane A2 in thromboinflammation complicating adenovirus based COVID-19 vaccine encoding the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 

Thromboinflammation in COVID-19 seems to be primarily caused by endothelial, platelet and neutrophil activation, platelet-neutrophil aggregates and release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs).13,18 Platelet activation in COVID-19 is fueled by a lipid storm characterized by massive increases in thromboxane A2 (TxA2) levels in the blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.19,20 Cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes catalyze the first step in the biosynthesis of TxA2 from arachidonic acid, and COX-2 expression is induced by the spike (S) protein of coronaviruses.21 We postulate that an aberrant increase in TxA2 generation induced by the spike protein expression from the AstraZeneca vaccine leads to thromboinflammation, thromboembolism and CVST. 4 

The support for the above proposed mechanism comes from the following observations. First, when mice of different age groups were infected with SARS-CoV virus, the generation of TxA2 was markedly increased in younger mice compared to middle aged mice.22 Furthermore, in children with asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, microvascular thrombosis and thrombotic microangiopathy occur early in infection.20 These observations are consistent with the higher risk for thrombosis in adults under 60 years of age, compared with the older age group.6,7 Second, platelets from female mice are much more reactive than from male mice.23 Furthermore, TxA2 generation, TxA2-platelet interaction and activation is increased in women compared to men.24,25 These observations are consistent with disproportionately increased risk of thrombosis in women following AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. 

The adenoviral vector ChAdOx1, containing nCoV-19 spike protein gene, infects host cells through the coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR).26 CAR-dependent cell entry of the viral vector allows insertion of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein gene and expression of Spike protein by host cells (Figure 1). CAR is primarily expressed on epithelial tight junctions.27 CAR expression has also been reported in platelets,28 and since platelets are anucleate cells CAR expression by megakaryocytes can be inferred. Therefore, AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines would be expected to induce expression of Spike protein in megakaryocytes and platelets (Figure 1). 

Spike protein of coronaviruses in known to induce COX-2 gene expression.21,29 COX-2 expression is induced during normal human megakaryopoiesis and characterizes newly formed platelets.30 While in healthy controls <10% of circulating platelets express COX-2, in patients with high platelet generation, up to 60% of platelets express COX-2.30 Generation of TxA2 by platelets is markedly suppressed by COX-2 inhibition in patients with increased megakaryopoiesis versus healthy subjects.30 Therefore, we postulate that expression of Spike protein induces COX-2 expression and generation of thromboxane A2 by megakaryocytes. TxA2 promotes biogenesis of activated platelets expressing COX-2. Platelet TxA2 generation leads to platelet activation and aggregation, and thereby thromboinflammation (Figure 1). 

Extravascular spaces of the lungs comprise populations of mature and immature megakaryocytes that originate from the bone marrow, such that lungs are a major site of platelet biogenesis, accounting for approximately 50% of total platelet production or about 10 million platelets per hour.31 More than 1 million extravascular megakaryocytes have been observed in each lung of transplant mice.31 Following intramuscular injection of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines, the adenovirus vector will traverse the veins and lymphatics to be delivered to the pulmonary circulation thereby exposing lung megakaryocytes in the first pass. Interestingly, under thrombocytopenic conditions, haematopoietic progenitors migrate out of the lung to repopulate the bone marrow and completely reconstitute blood platelet counts.31 

B. Predilection of cerebral venous sinuses for thrombosis following vaccination 

Recent studies have demonstrated that arterial, venous and sinusoidal endothelial cells in the brain uniquely express markers of the lymphatic endothelium including podoplanin.32 Podoplanin serves as a ligand for CLEC2 receptors on platelets.33 Thromboxane A2 dependent CLEC2 signaling leads to platelet activation (Figure 1), while a TxA2 receptor antagonist nearly abolish CLEC2 signaling and platelet activation.33 TxA2 dependent CLEC2 signaling promotes release of exosomes and microvesicles from platelets, leading to activation of CLEC5A and TLR2 receptors respectively on neutrophils, neutrophil activation and release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) (Figure 1).34 Neutrophil activation, more than platelet activation, is associated with thrombotic complications in COVID-19.13,18,35 As proposed above, the expression of podoplanin, a unique molecular signature of cerebral endothelial cells, may be responsible for the predilection of brain vascular bed to thromboinflammation and CVST as a complication of COVID-19 vaccines. 5 

C. Chemoprophylaxis with antiplatelet agents 

In animal models of endotoxin mediated endothelial injury and thromboinflammation, antagonism of TxA2 signaling prevents ARDS, reduces myocardial damage and increases survival.36-38 

Considering the key role played by platelets in thromboinflammation, we propose consideration of antiplatelet agents, either aspirin or TxA2 receptor antagonists, as chemoprophylactic agents when the AstraZeneca vaccine is administered to adults between 18 and 60 years of age.39 High bleeding risk because of another medical condition or medication would be contraindications to use of antiplatelet agents.39 Medical conditions that increase bleeding risk include previous gastrointestinal bleeding, peptic ulcer disease, blood clotting problems, and kidney disease.39 Medications that increase bleeding risk include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and other anticoagulants or anti-platelet agents.39 Aspirin appears to be safe in COVID-19. In a retrospective observational study in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, low-dose aspirin was found to be effective in reducing morbidity and mortality; and was not associated with any safety issues including major bleeding.40 Therefore, aspirin is likely to be safe as an adjunct to COVID-19 vaccines even in the event of a subsequent infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Can aspirin influence the host immune response to the COVID-19 vaccines? This issue merits further investigation. When healthy adults > 65 years of age were given influenza vaccine and randomized to receive 300 mg aspirin or placebo on days 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7, the aspirin group showed 4-fold or greater rise in influenza specific antibodies.41 The risk-benefit analysis, based on above information, suggests that a one to three week course of low-dose aspirin merits consideration in order to prevent the thromboembolic events associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

SUMMARY 

Thromboembolic disease including disseminated intravascular coagulation and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis have been reported in association with AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. Many countries have halted use of these vaccines either entirely or for adults under 30 to 60 years of age. European and North American countries generally have access to mRNA vaccines. However, in Asian and African countries the choices are limited to adenovirus based COVID-19 vaccines. The governments in such countries are forging ahead with vaccinating all adults, including those under 60 years of age, with Vaxzevria, Covishield (the version of Vaxzevria manufactured by the Serum Institute of India) or the Janssen vaccines. This has led to grave concern and anxiety amongst the citizens and medical professionals. Considering the profound global public health implications of limiting the use of these vaccines, it is critical to understand the pathobiology of vaccination induced thrombotic events in order to guide strategies aimed at prevention. In this regard, studies are urgently needed to examine lipid mediators and thromboxane A2 – platelet axis following vaccination with these vaccines, compared with mRNA vaccines. The risk-benefit analysis based on information presented here suggests that chemoprophylaxis using a short course of low-dose aspirin in adults under 60 years of age may be justified in conjunction with adenovirus based COVID-19 vaccines in order to prevent thromboembolic events and enhance safety. 6 

Figure 1. AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine induced thromboinflammation and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST)-Proposed Mechanisms: Adenovirus carrier delivers SARS-CoV-2 DNA encoding the Spike (S) protein to the lung megakaryocytes via the coxsackie-adenovirus receptor (CAR). Spike protein induces COX-2 expression in megakaryocytes leading to megakaryocyte activation, biogenesis of activated platelets that express COX-2 and generate thromboxane A2 (TxA2). Cerebral vein sinus endothelial cells express podoplanin, a natural ligand for CLEC2 receptors on platelets. Platelets traversing through the cerebral vein sinuses would be further activated by TxA2 dependent podoplanin-CLEC2 signaling, leading to release of extracellular vesicles, thereby promoting CLEC5A and TLR2 mediated neutrophil activation, thromboinflammation, CVST, and thromboembolism in other vascular beds. Young age and female gender are associated with increased TxA2 generation and platelet activation respectively, and hence increased risk of thromboembolic complications following vaccination. 

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16. Baldini T, Asioli GM, Romoli M, et al. Cerebral venous thrombosis and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infection: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Neurol. 2021. 

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19. Archambault A-S, Zaid Y, Rakotoarivelo V, et al. Lipid storm within the lungs of severe COVID-19 patients: Extensive levels of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase-derived inflammatory metabolites. medRxiv. 2020:2020.2012.2004.20242115. 

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26. Cohen CJ, Xiang ZQ, Gao G-P, Ertl HCJ, Wilson JM, Bergelson JM. Chimpanzee adenovirus CV-68 adapted as a gene delivery vector interacts with the coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor. Journal of General Virology. 2002;83(1):151-155. 

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32. Mezey É, Szalayova I, Hogden CT, et al. An immunohistochemical study of lymphatic elements in the human brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2021;118(3):e2002574118. 

33. Badolia R, Inamdar V, Manne BK, Dangelmaier C, Eble JA, Kunapuli SP. G(q) pathway regulates proximal C-type lectin-like receptor-2 (CLEC-2) signaling in platelets. J Biol Chem. 2017;292(35):14516-14531. 9 

34. Sung P-S, Huang T-F, Hsieh S-L. Extracellular vesicles from CLEC2-activated platelets enhance dengue virus-induced lethality via CLEC5A/TLR2. Nature Communications. 2019;10(1). 

35. Ng H, Havervall S, Rosell A, et al. Circulating Markers of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps Are of Prognostic Value in Patients With COVID-19. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2021;41(2):988-994. 

36. Carey MA, Bradbury JA, Seubert JM, Langenbach R, Zeldin DC, Germolec DR. Contrasting Effects of Cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and COX-2 Deficiency on the Host Response to Influenza A Viral Infection. The Journal of Immunology. 2005;175(10):6878-6884. 

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SOURCE

From: “Gupta, Ajay” <ajayg1@hs.uci.edu>

Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 10:33 AM

To: “Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN” <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

This EXPERT OPINION is in response to:

From: Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>
Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 9:03 AM
To: “Joel Shertok, PhD” <jshertok@yahoo.com>, “Stephen Williams, PhD” <sjwilliamspa@comcast.net>, “Prof. Marcus W Feldman” <mfeldman@stanford.edu>, “Irina Robu, PhD” <irina.stefania@gmail.com>, “Dr. Sudipta Saha” <sudiptasaha1977@gmail.com>, Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>, “Dr. Larry Bernstein” <larry.bernstein@gmail.com>, “Ofer Markman, PhD” <oferm2020@gmail.com>, “Daniel Menzin (gmail)” <dmenzin@gmail.com>, Pnina Abir-Am <pnina.abiram@gmail.com>, Alan <alanalanf@gmail.com>, Justin MDMEPhD <jdpmdphd@gmail.com>, Inbar Ofer <ofer.i@northeastern.edu>, Aviva Lev-Ari <aviva.lev-ari@comcast.net>, Madison Davis <madisond2302@gmail.com>, Danielle Smolyar <dsmolyar@syr.edu>, “Adina Hazan, PhD” <adinathazan@gmail.com>, Gail Thornton <gailsthornton@yahoo.com>, Amandeep kaur <662amandeep@gmail.com>, Premalata Pati <premalata09@gmail.com>, “Ajay Gupta, MD” <charaklabs@outlook.com>, Saul Yedgar <saulye@ekmd.huji.ac.il>, Yigal Blum <yigalblum@gmail.com>, a el <AElRoeiy@gmail.com>, “Dr. Raphael Nir” <rnir@sbhsciences.com>, “George Tetz, MD, PhD” <gtetz@clstherapeutics.com>, “Dr. Martin R Schiller (CEO, Heligenics)” <heligenics@gmail.com>, “Jea Asio (Heligenics)” <JAsio@Heligenics.com>, Yakov Kogan <ykogan@tgv-biomed.com>, Haim Levkowitz <haim@cs.UML.edu>

Subject: APRIL 13. 2021 – J&J Statement – Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of our vaccine. ->> Are there relations between these FINDINGS?

Johnson & Johnson Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., April 13, 2021– The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority. We are aware of an extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our COVID-19 vaccine. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases out of more than 6.8 million doses administered. Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of our vaccine.

In addition, we have been reviewing these cases with European health authorities. We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe.

We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public.

The CDC and FDA have made information available about proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot. The health authorities advise that people who have received our COVID-19 vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

For more information on the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

Please All send me your Expert Opinion on the relations between these FINDINGS?

Linking Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia to ChAdOx1 nCov-19 Vaccination, AstraZeneca | Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/04/12/linking-thrombotic-thrombocytopenia-to-chadox1-ncov-19-vaccination-astrazeneca/

Is SARS-COV2 Hijacking the Complement and Coagulation Systems?

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/08/04/is-sars-cov2-hijacking-the-complement-and-coagulation-systems/

SAR-Cov-2 is probably a vasculotropic RNA virus affecting the blood vessels: Endothelial cell infection and endotheliitis in COVID-19

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN 

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/06/01/sar-cov-2-is-probably-a-vasculotropic-rna-virus-affecting-the-blood-vessels-endothelial-cell-infection-and-endotheliitis-in-covid-19/

THANK YOU

Best regards,

Aviva

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

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Fighting Chaos with care, community trust, engagement must be cornerstones of pandemic response

Reporter: Amandeep Kaur, BSc, MSc (Exp. 6/2021)

According to the Global Health Security Index released by Johns Hopkins University in October 2019 in collaboration with Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the United States was announced to be the best developed country in the world to tackle any pandemic or health emergency in future.

The table turned within in one year of outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. By the end of March 2021, the country with highest COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world was United States. According to the latest numbers provided by World Health Organization (WHO), there were more than 540,000 deaths and more than 30 million confirmed cases in the United States.

Joia Mukherjee, associate professor of global health and social medicine in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School said,

“When we think about how to balance control of an epidemic over chaos, we have to double down on care and concern for the people and communities who are hardest hit”.

She also added that U.S. possess all the necessary building blocks required for a health system to work, but it lacks trust, leadership, engagement and care to assemble it into a working system.

Mukherjee mentioned about the issues with the Index that it undervalued the organized and integrated system which is necessary to help public meet their needs for clinical care. Another necessary element for real health safety which was underestimated was conveying clear message and social support to make effective and sustainable efforts for preventive public health measures.

Mukherjee is a chief medical officer at Partners In Health, an organization focused on strengthening community-based health care delivery. She is also a core member of HMS community members who play important role in constructing a more comprehensive response to the pandemic in all over the U.S. With years of experience, they are training global health care workers, analyzing the results and constructing an integrated health system to fight against the widespread health emergency caused by coronavirus all around the world.

Mukherjee encouraged to strengthen the consensus among the community to constrain this infectious disease epidemic. She suggested that validation of the following steps are crucial such as testing of the people with symptoms of infection with coronavirus, isolation of infected individuals by providing them with necessary resources and providing clinical treatment and care to those people who are in need. Mukherjee said, that community engagement and material support are not just idealistic goal rather these are essential components for functioning of health care system during an outburst of coronavirus.

Continued alertness such as social distancing and personal contact with infected individual is important because it is not possible to rapidly replace the old-school public health approaches with new advanced technologies like smart phone applications or biomedical improvements.

Public health specialists emphasized that the infection limitation is the only and most vital strategy for controlling the outbreak in near future, even if the population is getting vaccinated. It is crucial to slowdown the spread of disease for restricting the natural modification of more dangerous variants as that could potentially escape the immune protection mechanism developed by recently generated vaccines as well as natural immune defense systems.

Making Crucial connections

The treatment is more expensive and complicated in areas with less health facilities, said Paul Farmer, the Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard and chair of the HMS Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. He called this situation as treatment nihilism. Due to shortage of resources, the maximum energy is focused in public health care and prevention efforts. U.S. has resources to cope up with the increasing demand of hospital space and is developing vaccines, but there is a form of containment nihilism- which means prevention and infection containment are unattainable- said by many experts.

Farmer said, integration of necessary elements such as clinical care, therapies, vaccines, preventive measures and social support into a single comprehensive plan is the best approach for a better response to COVID-19 disease. He understands the importance of community trust and integrated health care system for fighting against this pandemic, as being one of the founders of Partners In Health and have years of experience along with his colleagues from HMS and PIH in fighting epidemics of HIV, Ebola, cholera, tuberculosis, other infectious and non-infectious diseases.

PIH launched the Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC), which is an initiative of contact tracing statewide in partnership with several other state bodies, local boards of Health system and PIH. The CTC was setup in April 2020 in U.S. by Governor Charlie Baker, with leadership from HMS faculty, to build a unified response to COVID-19 and create a foundation for a long-term movement towards a more integrated community-based health care system.

The contact tracing involves reaching out to individuals who are COVID-19 positive, then further detect people who came in close contact with infected individuals and screen out people with coronavirus symptoms and encourage them to seek testing and take necessary precautions to break the chain of infection into the community.

In the initial phase of outbreak, the CTC group comprises of contact tracers and health care coordinators who spoke 23 different languages, including social workers, public health practitioners, nurses and staff members from local board health agencies with deep links to the communities they are helping. The CTC worked with 339 out of 351 state municipalities with local public health agencies relied completely on CTC whereas some cities and towns depend occasionally on CTC backup. According to a report, CTC members reached up to 80 percent of contact tracking in hard-hit and resource deprived communities such as New Bedford.

Putting COVID-19 in context

Based on generations of experience helping people surviving some of the deadliest epidemic and endemic outbreaks in places like Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda and Peru, the staff was alert that people with bad social and economic condition have less space to get quarantined and follow other public health safety measures and are most vulnerable people at high risk in the pandemic situation.

Infected individuals or individuals at risk of getting infected by SARS-CoV-2 had many questions regarding when to seek doctor’s help and where to get tested, reported by contact tracers. People were worried about being evicted from work for two weeks and some immigrants worried about basic supplies as they were away from their family and friends.

The CTC team received more than 7,000 requests for social support assistance in the initial three months. The staff members and contact tracers were actively connecting the resourceful individuals with the needy people and filling up the gap when there was shortage in their own resources.

Farmer said, “COVID is a misery-seeking missile that has targeted the most vulnerable.”

The reality that infected individuals concerned about lacking primary household items, food items and access to childcare, emphasizes the urgency of rudimentary social care and community support in fighting against the pandemic. Farmer said, to break the chain of infection and resume society it is mandatory to meet all the elementary needs of people.

“What kinds of help are people asking for?” Farmer said and added “it’s important to listen to what your patients are telling you.”

An outbreak of care

The launch of Massachusetts CTC with the support from PIH, started receiving requests from all around the country to assist initiating contact tracing procedures. In May, 2020 the organization announced the launch of a U.S. public health accompaniment to cope up with the asked need.

The unit has included team members in nearly 24 states and municipal health departments in the country and work in collaboration with local organizations. The technical support on things like choosing and implementing the tools and software for contact tracing was provided by PIH. To create awareness and provide new understanding more rapidly, a learning collaboration was established with more than 200 team members from more than 100 different organizations. The team worked to meet the needs of population at higher risk of infection by advocating them for a stronger and more reliable public health response.

The PIH public health team helped to train contact trackers in the Navajo nation and operate to strengthen the coordination between SARS-CoV-2 testing, efforts for precaution, clinical health care delivery and social support in vulnerable communities around the U.S.

“For us to reopen our schools, our churches, our workplaces,” Mukherjee said, “we have to know where the virus is spreading so that we don’t just continue on this path.”

SOURCE:

https://hms.harvard.edu/news/fighting-chaos-care?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_term=field_news_item_1&utm_content=HMNews04052021

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal, including the following:

T cells recognize recent SARS-CoV-2 variants

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/03/30/t-cells-recognize-recent-sars-cov-2-variants/

The WHO team is expected to soon publish a 300-page final report on its investigation, after scrapping plans for an interim report on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 — the new coronavirus responsible for killing 2.7 million people globally

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/03/27/the-who-team-is-expected-to-soon-publish-a-300-page-final-report-on-its-investigation-after-scrapping-plans-for-an-interim-report-on-the-origins-of-sars-cov-2-the-new-coronavirus-responsibl/

Need for Global Response to SARS-CoV-2 Viral Variants

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/02/12/need-for-global-response-to-sars-cov-2-viral-variants/

Mechanistic link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and increased risk of stroke using 3D printed models and human endothelial cells

Reporter: Adina Hazan, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/12/28/mechanistic-link-between-sars-cov-2-infection-and-increased-risk-of-stroke-using-3d-printed-models-and-human-endothelial-cells/

Artificial intelligence predicts the immunogenic landscape of SARS-CoV-2

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/02/04/artificial-intelligence-predicts-the-immunogenic-landscape-of-sars-cov-2/

Read Full Post »

COVID-19 Sequel: Neurological Impact of Social isolation been linked to poorer physical and mental health

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

UPDATED on 4/13/2021

Toward Understanding COVID-19 Recovery: National Institutes of Health Workshop on Postacute COVID-19

 

Abstract

Over the past year, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has swept the globe, resulting in an enormous worldwide burden of infection and mortality. However, the additional toll resulting from long-term consequences of the pandemic has yet to be tallied. Heterogeneous disease manifestations and syndromes are now recognized among some persons after their initial recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection, representing in the broadest sense a failure to return to a baseline state of health after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. On 3 to 4 December 2020, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in collaboration with other Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health, convened a virtual workshop to summarize existing knowledge on postacute COVID-19 and to identify key knowledge gaps regarding this condition.

Over the past year, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has swept the globe, resulting in more than 113 million persons infected and 2.5 million deaths (1). However, the additional toll resulting from long-term consequences of the pandemic has yet to be tallied. Heterogeneous disease manifestations and syndromes are now recognized among some persons after their initial recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Although a standardized case definition does not yet exist for these manifestations, in the broadest sense they represent a failure to return to a baseline state of health after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. The various terms used to describe this condition have included postacute (or late) sequelae of COVID-19, post-COVID condition or syndrome, long COVID, and long-haul COVID. In this article, we use the general umbrella term of “postacute COVID-19” to refer to multiple disease processes that may have varying degrees of overlap (including but not limited to sequelae of critical illness and hospitalization in persons with COVID-19) and the entity of long COVID, which refers to prolonged health abnormalities in persons previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 who may or may not have required hospitalization. Of note, there is not yet a consensus on terminology, which will likely evolve with a better understanding of this condition.

Reported symptoms are wide-ranging and may involve nearly all organ systems, with fatigue, dyspnea, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, and depression often described (2–5). Although abnormalities in imaging studies and functional testing have been reported, the long-term clinical significance of some of these findings is not yet clear (367). Postacute manifestations of COVID-19 have been seen in persons of all demographic groups and include reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (89). Although the epidemiology of the diverse manifestations of postacute COVID-19 is not yet known, the expansive global burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection suggests that the potential public health effects of postacute COVID-19 are significant if even a small proportion of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection have prolonged recovery or do not return to their baseline health.

On 3 to 4 December 2020, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in collaboration with other Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health, convened a virtual workshop (available via videocast at https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=38878 and https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=38879) to summarize existing knowledge on postacute COVID-19 and to identify key knowledge gaps. The speakers and participants included epidemiologists, clinicians, clinical and basic scientists, and members of the affected community. The videocast was open to the general public and had more than 1200 registered participants.

SOURCE

UPDATED on 4/7/2021

‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’: COVID-19 Brain Health Fallout Is Real, Severe

Sarah Edmonds

April 07, 2021

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

START QUOTE

COVID-19 survivors face a sharply elevated risk of developing psychiatric or neurologic disorders in the six months after they contract the virus — a danger that mounts with symptom severity, new research shows.

In what is purported to be the largest study of its kind to-date, results showed that among 236,379 COVID-19 patients, one third were diagnosed with at least one of 14 psychiatric or neurologic disorders within a 6-month span.

The rate of illnesses, which ranged from depression to stroke, rose sharply among those with COVID-19 symptoms acute enough to require hospitalization.  

“If we look at patients who were hospitalized, that rate increased to 39%, and then increased to about just under 1 in 2 patients who needed ICU admission at the time of the COVID-19 diagnosis,” Maxime Taquet, PhD, University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, Oxford, United Kingdom, told a media briefing.

Incidence jumps to almost two thirds in patients with encephalopathy at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis, he added.

The study, which examined the brain health of 236,379 survivors of COVID-19 via a US database of 81 million electronic health records, was published online April 6 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

High Rate of Neurologic, Psychiatric Disorders

The research team looked at the first-time diagnosis or recurrence of 14 neurologic and psychiatric outcomes in patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections. They also compared the brain health of this cohort with a control group of those with influenza or with non-COVID respiratory infections over the same period. 

SOURCE

The Effects of Loneliness and Our Brain function: poorer physical and mental health

One review of the science of loneliness found that people with stronger social relationships have a 50 per cent increased likelihood of survival over a set period of time compared with those with weaker social connections. Other studies have linked loneliness to cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and depression.

For loneliness researchers the pandemic has provided an unprecedented natural experiment in the impact that social isolation might have on our brains. As millions of people across the world emerge from months of reduced social contact, a new neuroscience of loneliness is starting to figure out why social relationships are so crucial to our health.

Neural basis of Emotion

Desire for Social Interaction

Are there neurological differences between people who experience short-term isolation and those who have been isolated for long stretches of time? What kinds of social interactions satisfy our social cravings? Is a video call enough to quell our need for social contact, or do some people require an in-person connection to really feel satiated?

START QUOTE

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University in the US and the author of two major studies on social isolation and health. “We have a lot of data that very robustly shows that both isolation and loneliness put us at increased risk for premature mortality—and conversely, that being socially connected is protective and reduces our risk,” she says.

START QUOTE

“Trying to investigate isolation or loneliness is not as straightforward in humans. In humans, being lonely is not necessarily correlated with how many people are around you,” says Tomova. She is particularly interested in the impact that the pandemic might have had on young people whose cognitive and social skills are still developing. “I think we will see potentially some differences in how their social behavior developed or things like that,” she says. But as is always the case in the uncertain world of loneliness research, the opposite could be true. “It could also be that most people are fine, because maybe social media does fulfill our social needs really well.”

SOURCE

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lockdown-loneliness-neuroscience

The Weird Science of Loneliness and Our Brains – Social isolation as been linked to poorer physical and mental health, but scientists are finally starting to understand its neurological impact

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Mechanistic link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and increased risk of stroke using 3D printed models and human endothelial cells

Reporter: Adina Hazan, PhD

 

Kaneko, et al.  from UCLA aimed to explore why SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with an increased rate of cerebrovascular events, including

  • ischemic stroke and
  • intracerebral hemorrhage

While some suggested mechanisms include an overall systemic inflammatory response including increasing circulating cytokines and leading to a prothrombotic state, this may be only a partial answer. A SARS-CoV-2 specific mechanism could be likely, considering that both angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2), the receptor necessary for SARS-CoV-2 to gain entry into the cell, and SARS-CoV-2 RNA have been reportedly detected in the human brain postmortem.

One of the difficulties in studying vasculature mechanisms is that the inherent 3D shape and blood flow subject this tissue to different stressors, such as flow, that could be critically relevant during inflammation. To accurately study the effect of SARS-CoV-2 on the vasculature of the brain, the team generated 3D models of the human middle cerebral artery during intracranial artery stenosis using data from CT (computed tomography) angiography. This data was then exported with important factors included such as

  • shear stress during perfusion,
  • streamlines, and
  • flow velocity to be used to fabricate 3D models.

These tubes were then coated with endothelial cells isolated and sorted from normal human brain tissue resected during surgery. In doing so, this model could closely mimic the cellular response of the vasculature of the human brain.

Surprisingly, without this 3D tube, human derived brain endothelial cells displayed very little expression of ACE2 or, TMPRSS2 (transmembrane protease 2), a necessary cofactor for SARS-COV-2 viral entry.

Interestingly,

  • horizontal shear stress increased the expression of ACE2 and
  • increased the binding of spike protein to ACE2, especially within the stenotic portion of the 3D model.

By exposing the endothelial cells to liposomes expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, they also were able to explore key upregulated genes in the exposed cells, in which they found that

  • “binding of SARS-CoV-2 S protein triggered 83 unique genes in human brain endothelial cells”.

This included many inflammatory signals, some of which have been previously described as associated with SARS-COV-2, and others whose effects are unknown. This may provide an important foundation for exploring potential therapeutic targets in patients susceptible to cerebrovascular events.

Overall, this study shows important links between the

  • mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 and the
  • increase in ischemic events in these patients. It also has important implications for
  • treatment for SARS-CoV-2, as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis may be increasing ACE2 expression in patients, providing the entry port for viral particles into brain endothelia.

SOURCE:

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.032764

Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Human Heart

Reporters: Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/09/29/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-the-human-heart/

 

SAR-Cov-2 is probably a vasculotropic RNA virus affecting the blood vessels: Endothelial cell infection and endotheliitis in COVID-19

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN – Bold face and colors are my addition

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/06/01/sar-cov-2-is-probably-a-vasculotropic-rna-virus-affecting-the-blood-vessels-endothelial-cell-infection-and-endotheliitis-in-covid-19/

 

Diagnosis of Coronavirus Infection by Medical Imaging and Cardiovascular Impacts of Viral Infection, Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN  Lead Curator – e–mail: avivalev-ari@alum.berkeley.edu

Read Full Post »

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Human Heart

Reporters: Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The Voice of Dr. Pearlman:

 

 

Editorial

September 22/29, 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the JAMA Network

In 13 Viewpoints in this issue,214 JAMA Network editors reflect on the clinical, public health, operational, and workforce issues related to COVID-19 in each of their specialties. Questions and concerns they identify in their clinical communities include the following:

  • Benefits and harms of treatments and identifying mortality risk markers beyond age and comorbidities

  • Cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19 infection, including risks to those with comorbid hypertension and risks for myocardial injury

  • Risk for direct central nervous system invasion and COVID-19 encephalitis and for long-term neuropsychiatric manifestations in a post–COVID-19 syndrome

  • Risks related to SARS-CoV-2 infection for patients with compromised immunity, such as those receiving treatment for cancer

  • Challenges unique to patients with acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease

  • Risks of viral transmission from aerosol-generating procedures, including most minimally invasive surgeries, and the need for eye protection as well as personal protective equipment as part of universal precautions

  • The prevalence and pathophysiology of skin findings in patients with COVID-19, determining if they are primary or secondary cutaneous manifestations of infection, and how best to manage them

  • The prevalence and significance of eye findings in patients with COVID-19 and the risk of transmission and infection through ocular surfaces

  • The role of anticoagulation for managing the endotheliopathy and coagulopathy characteristic of the infection in some patients

  • Developmental effects on children of the loss of family routines, finances, older loved ones, school and education, and social-based activities and milestone events

  • Effects of the pandemic, mitigation efforts, and economic downturn on the mental health of patients and frontline clinicians

  • Seasonality of transmission as the pandemic enters its third season

  • How to implement reliable seroprevalence surveys to document progression of the pandemic and effects of public health measures

  • Effects of the pandemic on access to care and the rise of telehealth

  • Consequences of COVID-19 for clinical capabilities, such as workforce availability in several specialties, delays in performing procedures and operations, and implications for medical education and resident recruitment.

Additional important questions that require careful observation and research include

  • Randomized evaluations of treatment: what is effective and safe, and what timing of which drug will reduce morbidity and mortality? Will a combination of therapies be more effective than any single drug?
  • Randomized evaluations of preventive interventions, including convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines. Which are effective and safe enough to prevent COVID-19 at a population level?
  • How can COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics be distributed and paid for in ways that are fair and equitable?
  • Is immunity complete or partial, permanent or temporary, what is its mechanism, and how best is it measured? Can the virus mutate around host defenses?
  • How important are preadolescent children to the spread of infection to older family members and adult communities, and what are the implications for parent, caregiver, and teacher personal risk and disease transmission?
  • Is SARS-CoV-2 like influenza (continually circulating without or with seasonality), measles (transmissible but containable beneath threshold limits), or smallpox and polio (eradicable, or nearly so)?
  • Has the pandemic fundamentally altered the way health care is financed and delivered? By shining a spotlight on health inequities, can the pandemic motivate changes in health care finance, organization, and delivery to reduce those inequities?
  • Cardiology and COVID-19

Cardiology and COVID-19 – Original Article

Bonow  RO, O’Gara  PT, Yancy  CW.  Cardiology and COVID-19.   JAMA. Published online September 22, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.15088
Article Google Scholar

The initial reports on the epidemiology of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emanating from Wuhan, China, offered an ominous forewarning of the risks of severe complications in elderly patients and those with underlying cardiovascular disease, including the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome, cardiogenic shock, thromboembolic events, and death. These observations have been confirmed subsequently in numerous reports from around the globe, including studies from Europe and the US. The mechanisms responsible for this vulnerability have not been fully elucidated, but there are several possibilities. Some of these adverse consequences could reflect the basic fragility of older individuals with chronic conditions subjected to the stress of severe pneumonia similar to influenza infections. In addition, development of type 2 myocardial infarction related to increased myocardial oxygen demand in the setting of hypoxia may be a predominant concern, and among patients with chronic coronary artery disease, an episode of acute systemic inflammation might also contribute to plaque instability, thus precipitating acute coronary syndromes, as has also been reported during influenza outbreaks.

However, in the brief timeline of the current pandemic, numerous publications highlighting the constellation of observed cardiovascular consequences have emphasized certain distinctions that appear unique to COVID-19.1 Although the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) gains entry via the upper respiratory tract, its affinity and selective binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which is abundant in the endothelium of arteries and veins as well as in the respiratory tract epithelium, create a scenario in which COVID-19 is as much a vascular infection as it is a respiratory infection with the potential for serious vascular-related complications. This may explain why hypertension is one of the cardiovascular conditions associated with adverse outcomes. In the early stages of the pandemic, the involvement of the ACE2 receptor as the target for viral entry into cells created concerns regarding the initiation or continuation of treatment with ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor antagonists in patients with hypertension, left ventricular dysfunction, or other cardiac conditions. Subsequently, many studies have shown that these drugs do not increase susceptibility to infection or increase disease severity in those who contract the disease,2 thus supporting recommendations from academic societies that these drugs should not be discontinued in patients who develop COVID-19 infections.

Thrombosis, arterial or venous, is a hallmark of severe COVID-19 infections, related both to vascular injury and the prothrombotic cytokines released during the intense systemic inflammatory and immune responses.3 This sets the stage for serious thrombotic complications including acute coronary syndromes, ischemic strokes, pulmonary embolism, and ischemic damage to multiple other organ systems. Such events can complicate the course of any patient with COVID-19 but would be particularly devasting to individuals with preexisting cardiovascular disease.

Another unique aspect of COVID-19 infections that is not encountered by patients with influenza is myocardial injury, manifested by elevated levels of circulating troponin, creatinine kinase-MB, and myoglobin. Hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 infections and consequent evidence of myocardial injury have a high risk of in-hospital mortality.4 Troponin elevations are most concerning, and when accompanied by elevations of brain natriuretic peptide, the risk is further accentuated. Although myocardial injury could reflect a COVID-19–related acute coronary event, most patients with troponin elevations who undergo angiography do not have epicardial coronary artery obstruction. Rather, those with myocardial injury have a high incidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome, elevation of D-dimer levels, and markedly elevated inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein and procalcitonin, suggesting that the combination of hypoxia, microvascular thrombosis, and systemic inflammation contributes to myocardial injury. Myocarditis is a candidate explanation for myocardial injury but has been difficult to confirm consistently. However, features of myocarditis have been reported in case reports5 based on clinical presentation and results of noninvasive imaging, but thus far confirmation of myocarditis based on myocardial biopsy or autopsy examinations has been a rare finding.6 Instead, myocardial tissue samples more typically show vascular or perivascular inflammation (endothelialitis) without leukocytic infiltration or myocyte damage.

There remain important unknowns regarding the intermediate and long-term sequelae of COVID-19 infection among hospital survivors. In an autopsy series of patients who died from confirmed COVID-19 without clinical or histological evidence of fulminant myocarditis,7 viral RNA was identified in myocardial tissue in 24 of 39 cases, with viral load of more than 1000 copies/μg of RNA in 16 cases. A cytokine response panel demonstrated upregulation of 6 proinflammatory genes (tumor necrosis factor, interferon γ, CCL4, and interleukin 6, 8, and 18) in the 16 myocardial samples with the high viral RNA levels.

Whether a subclinical viral load and associated cytokine response such as this in survivors of COVID-19 could translate into subsequent myocardial dysfunction and clinical heart failure require further investigation. However, the results of a recent biomarker and cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging study provide evidence to support this concern.6 Among 100 patients who were studied by CMR after recovery from confirmed COVID-19 infection, of whom 67 did not require hospitalization during the acute phase, left ventricular volume was greater and ejection fraction was lower than that of a control group. Furthermore, 78 patients had abnormal myocardial tissue characterization by CMR, with elevated T1 and T2 signals and myocardial hyperenhancement consistent with myocardial edema and inflammation, and 71 patients had elevated levels of high-sensitivity troponin T. Three patients with the most severe CMR abnormalities underwent myocardial biopsy, with evidence of active lymphocytic infiltration.6 It is noteworthy that all 100 patients in this series had negative COVID-19 test results at the time of CMR study (median, 71 days; interquartile range [IQR], 64-92 days after acute infection). The results of these relatively small series should be interpreted cautiously until confirmed by larger series with longer follow-up and with confirmed clinical outcomes. But the findings do underscore the uncertainty regarding the long-term cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19 in patients who have ostensibly recovered. Of note, a randomized clinical trial of anticoagulation to reduce the risk of thrombotic complications in the posthospital phase of COVID-19 infection is under development through the National Institutes of Health’s set of ACTIV (Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines) initiatives.

In addition, the indirect effects of COVID-19 have become a major concern. Multiple observations during the COVID-19 pandemic confirm a sudden and inexplicable decline in rates of hospital admissions for ST–segment elevation myocardial infarction and other acute coronary syndromes beginning in March and April 2020. This has been a universal experience, with similar findings reported from multiple countries around the world in single-center observations, multicenter registries, and national databases. A concerning increase in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests has also been reported.8 These data suggest that COVID-19 has influenced health care–seeking behavior resulting in fewer presentations of acute coronary syndromes in emergency departments and more out-of-hospital events. Failure to seek appropriate emergency cardiac care could contribute to the observations of increased number of deaths and cardiac arrests, more than the anticipated average during this period8,9 with worse outcomes among those who ultimately do seek care.10 Recent data suggest that admission rates for myocardial infarction may be returning to baseline,10 but outcomes will improve only if patients seek care promptly and hospital systems are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 surges.

Given the ongoing activity of COVID-19, very clear messaging to the public and patients should include the following: heed the warning signs of heart attack, act promptly to initiate emergency medical services, and seek immediate care in hospitals, which have taken every step needed to be safe places. And especially, the messaging should continuously underscore the most important considerations that have been extant since this crisis began—wear a mask and practice physical distancing. In the meantime, the generation of rigorous evidence to inform best practices for diagnosis and management of COVID-19–related cardiovascular disease is a global imperative.

Corresponding Author: Robert O. Bonow, MD, MS, Division of Cardiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 676 N St Clair St, Ste 600, Chicago, IL 60611 (r-bonow@northwestern.edu)

SOURCE

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2770858

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COVID concern in Cardiology: Asymptomatic patients who have been previously infected demonstrating evidence on MRI of scarring or myocarditis

Reporters: Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

The Voice of Dr. Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

Indeed, many viruses can cause inflammation and weakening of the heart.

So far there is no established action to take for prevention, and management is based on clinical manifestations of heart failure: shortness of breath, particularly if worse laying flat or worse with exertion, leg swelling (edema), blood tests showing elevated brain natriuretic peptide (BNP or proBNP, a marker of heart muscle strain), and a basic metabolic panel that may show “pre-renal azotemia” (elevation of BUN and Creatinine, typically in a ratio >20:1) and/or hyponatremia (sodium concentration below 135 mEq/dL). If any of the above are suspected, it is reasonable to get transthoracic echocardiography for systolic and diastolic function. If either systolic or diastolic function by ultrasound show significant impairment not improved by usual therapy (diuretic, ACEI/ARB/ARNI, blocker, aldosterone inhibitor e.g. spironolactone) then an MRI scar map may be considered (MRI scar maps show retention of gadolinium contrast agent by injured heart muscle, first demonstrated by Dr. Justin Pearlman during angiogenesis research MRI studies).

There is no controversy in the above, the controversy is a rush to expanded referral for cardiac MRI without clear clinical evidence of heart impairment, at a stage when there is no established therapy for possible detection of myocarditis (cardiac inflammation). General unproven measures for inflammation may include taking ginger and tumeric supplements if well tolerated by the stomach, drinking 2 cups/day of Rooibos Tea if well tolerated by the liver.

Canakinumab was recommended by one research group to treat inflammation and risk to the heart if the blood test hsCRP is elevated (in addition to potential weakening of muscle, inflammation activates complement, makes atherosclerosis lesions unstable, and thus may elevate risk of heart attack, stroke, renal failure or limb loss from blocked blood delivery). The canakinumab studies were published in NEJM and LANCET with claims of significant improvement in outcomes, but that was not approved by FDA or confirmed by other groups, even though it has biologic plausibility. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-67361732247-X/fulltext

 

Some Heart Societies Agree on Cautions for COVID-Myocarditis Screening

— Official response has been modest, though

Such evidence of myocardial injury and inflammation on CMR turned up in a German study among people who recovered from largely mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 compared with healthy controls and risk factor-matched controls.

Then an Ohio State University study showed CMR findings suggestive of myocarditis in 15% of collegiate athletes after asymptomatic or mild SARS-CoV-2 infection.

But an open letter from some 50 medical professionals across disciplines emphasized that “prevalence, clinical significance and long-term implications” of such findings aren’t known. The letter called on the 18 professional societies to which it was sent on Tuesday to release clear guidance against CMR screening in the general population to look for post-COVID heart damage in the absence of symptoms.

The Society for Cardiac Magnetic Resonance quickly responded with a brief statement from its chief executive officer, Chiara Bucciarelli-Ducci, MD, PhD, agreeing that routine CMR in asymptomatic patients after COVID-19 “is currently not justified… and it should not be encouraged.”

She referred clinicians to the multisociety guidelines on clinical indications of CMR when deciding whether to scan COVID-19 patients. “While CMR is an excellent imaging tool for diagnosing myocarditis in patients with suspected disease, we do not recommend its use in patients without symptoms,” she added.

The American Heart Association didn’t put out any written statement but offered spokesperson Manesh Patel, MD, chair of its Diagnostic and Interventional Cath Committee.

“The American Heart Association’s position on this is that in general we agree that routine cardiac MRI should not be conducted unless in the course of a study” for COVID-19 patients, he said. “There’s a lot of evolving information around people with COVID, and certainly asymptomatic status, whether it’s recent or prior, it’s not clearly known what the MRI findings will mean or what the long-term implications are without both a control group and an understanding around population.”

The ACC opted against taking a stand. It provided MedPage Today with the following statement from ACC President Athena Poppas, MD:

“We appreciate the authors’ concerns about the potential mischaracterization of the long-term impact of myocarditis after a COVID-19 diagnosis and the need for well-designed clinical trials and careful, long term follow-up. The pandemic is requiring everyone make real-time decisions on how to best care for heart disease patients who may be impacted by COVID-19. The ACC is committed to helping synthesize and provide the most up-to-date, high quality information possible to the cardiovascular care team. We will continue to review and assess the scientific data surrounding cardiac health and COVID-19 and issue guidance to help our care team.”

While the open letter noted that some post-COVID patients have been asking for CMR, Walsh noted that primary care would likely see the brunt of any such influx. She personally has not had any patients ask to be screened.

SOURCE

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/88704?xid=nl_covidupdate_2020-09-21

Effect of interleukin-1β inhibition with canakinumab on incident lung cancer in patients with atherosclerosis: exploratory results from a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Summary

Background

Inflammation in the tumour microenvironment mediated by interleukin 1β is hypothesised to have a major role in cancer invasiveness, progression, and metastases. We did an additional analysis in the Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcomes Study (CANTOS), a randomised trial of the role of interleukin-1β inhibition in atherosclerosis, with the aim of establishing whether inhibition of a major product of the Nod-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome with canakinumab might alter cancer incidence.

Methods

We did a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of canakinumab in 10 061 patients with atherosclerosis who had had a myocardial infarction, were free of previously diagnosed cancer, and had concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) of 2 mg/L or greater. To assess dose–response effects, patients were randomly assigned by computer-generated codes to three canakinumab doses (50 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg, subcutaneously every 3 months) or placebo. Participants were followed up for incident cancer diagnoses, which were adjudicated by an oncology endpoint committee masked to drug or dose allocation. Analysis was by intention to treat. The trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.govNCT01327846. The trial is closed (the last patient visit was in June, 2017).

Findings

Baseline concentrations of hsCRP (median 6·0 mg/L vs 4·2 mg/L; p<0·0001) and interleukin 6 (3·2 vs 2·6 ng/L; p<0·0001) were significantly higher among participants subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer than among those not diagnosed with cancer. During median follow-up of 3·7 years, compared with placebo, canakinumab was associated with dose-dependent reductions in concentrations of hsCRP of 26–41% and of interleukin 6 of 25–43% (p<0·0001 for all comparisons). Total cancer mortality (n=196) was significantly lower in the pooled canakinumab group than in the placebo group (p=0·0007 for trend across groups), but was significantly lower than placebo only in the 300 mg group individually (hazard ratio [HR] 0·49 [95% CI 0·31–0·75]; p=0·0009). Incident lung cancer (n=129) was significantly less frequent in the 150 mg (HR 0·61 [95% CI 0·39–0·97]; p=0·034) and 300 mg groups (HR 0·33 [95% CI 0·18–0·59]; p<0·0001; p<0·0001 for trend across groups). Lung cancer mortality was significantly less common in the canakinumab 300 mg group than in the placebo group (HR 0·23 [95% CI 0·10–0·54]; p=0·0002) and in the pooled canakinumab population than in the placebo group (p=0·0002 for trend across groups). Fatal infections or sepsis were significantly more common in the canakinumab groups than in the placebo group. All-cause mortality did not differ significantly between the canakinumab and placebo groups (HR 0·94 [95% CI 0·83–1·06]; p=0·31).

Interpretation

Our hypothesis-generating data suggest the possibility that anti-inflammatory therapy with canakinumab targeting the interleukin-1β innate immunity pathway could significantly reduce incident lung cancer and lung cancer mortality. Replication of these data in formal settings of cancer screening and treatment is required.

Funding

Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

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Coronavirus damages the Human Heart Muscle: Disrupting Sarcomeres and Displacing DNA

Reporters: Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

‘Carnage’ in a lab dish shows how the coronavirus may damage the heart

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