What We're Reading: Long-term COVID-19; Intellectual Disability, Coronavirus Death; Pfizer Vaccine Neutralizes Brazil Variant

March 9, 2021
AJMC Staff

Many people who experience long-term symptoms from COVID-19 were asymptomatic when initially infected; COVID-19 patients with intellectual disabilities were shown to be more susceptible to hospitalization and death; the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine neutralizes the more contagious variant first identified in Brazil.

Lingering COVID-19 Symptoms More Likely in Initially Asymptomatic People

Reported by The New York Times, a new study finds that many people who experience long-term symptoms from COVID-19 were asymptomatic when initially infected. Still in preprint and subject to peer review, the study analyzed electronic medical records of 1407 people in California who tested positive for the virus. In their findings, 27% (n = 382) of the cohort reported struggling with post–COVID-19 symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain more than 60 days after being infected, in which nearly a third of these patients had not had any symptoms at the onset of infection through the first 10 days after they tested positive.

Intellectual Disability Second Only to Old Age for Risk of COVID-19 Death

Patients with intellectual disabilities were shown to be more susceptible to COVID-19 hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death compared with those without these limitations. Reported by CIDRAP, the study, published as a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, also finds that intellectual impairments were the second strongest predictor of death following older age. Approximately 44% of patients with intellectual impairments were shown to have insurance coverage associated with low incomes and were more likely to have underlying medical conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, but not cancer.

Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Shown to Neutralize Brazil Variant

The coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech was shown to neutralize a novel variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly in Brazil, which has been associated with being more contagious and reinfecting those who have recovered from other versions of the virus, reported Reuters. The efficacy represented by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine builds on its additional effectiveness against other more contagious variants first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Although likely to provide sufficient protection against the South African variant, Pfizer is planning to test a third booster dose to combat the variant’s reduction of protective antibodies elicited by the vaccine.