What We’re Reading: Rapid Tests Questioned; Dementia Prevalence Could Triple; Menstrual Changes After Vaccination

Researchers raise questions on rapid tests' accuracy early in COVID-19 infection; data show dementia prevalence could triple by 2050; COVID-19 vaccines could lead to minor, temporary changes in menstruation cycles.

New Data on Antigen Tests Released

Two new articles published in STAT News discuss some potential pitfalls of using rapid tests to detect the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The first piece discusses findings of a small, not yet peer-reviewed study, that showed the tests were better at detecting COVID-19 several days after infection as opposed to earlier. Although conducted with only 30 participants, the researchers found the rapid antigen tests yielded false negatives early on, even though polymerase chain reaction tests detected high levels of the disease in most individuals. In the second piece, experts stress the importance of using rapid tests, but noted they may be unreliable in some situations.

Dementia Prevalence Projected to Triple by 2050

New research published in The Lancet Public Health estimates the worldwide prevalence of individuals with dementia will increase from 57.4 million in 2019 to 152.8 million in 2050. More women were estimated to have dementia in 2019, and researchers expect this trend to continue in the future. The smallest percent changes were found in high-income Asian Pacific countries and Western Europe. However, regions including North Africa, the Middle East, and eastern Sub-Saharan Africa are projected to have the largest percentage changes. Investigators conclude interventions to address modifiable risk factors and investing in research on biological mechanisms are needed to help meet this growing public health challenge.

COVID-19 Vaccines Could Impact Menstrual Cycles

A recent study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found vaccination against COVID-19 could lead to changes in the timing of menstruation, but the changes are temporary and vaccines are still recommended to prevent serious COVID-19 complications, NPR reports. The risks from COVID-19 remain high, and this potential effect is not considered a serious adverse event. In trials testing the now-approved vaccines, aspects of reproductive health, like pregnancy, were prioritized over menstruation, researchers said. Although the exact underlying cause of the relationship is unknown, the investigators point out the immune and reproductive systems are linked.